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In the event that the OCE recommends further investigation, however, the ethics committee must issue a public statement on the referral before the end of the first 45-day period.
But if the OCE advises an inquiry be dismissed, the ethics committee is not required to make any public statements.
Nonetheless, in late February the ethics committee did release five reports in which the OCE recommended dismissal as part of its investigation of the defunct lobbying shop PMA Group and its ties to lawmakers.
Among those five reports was one inquiry focused on the late Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), who died Feb. 8 and was no longer under the panels jurisdiction at the time that it released the report.
But Public Citizens Craig Holman, one of the government reform advocates who advised the House task force that created the OCE, said scenarios like Deals in which an OCE report was apparently issued but not released prior to a Members resignation had not been considered.
But Holman added: Even if that had never been contemplated, what was contemplated was the OCE reports become public under any condition.
Under the OCEs rules, its eight-member board, led by Chairman and ex-Rep. David Skaggs (D-Colo.) and Co-Chairman and ex-Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.), could in fact vote to release the report if the OCE has in fact recommended further investigation.
The Journal-Constitution reported in early 2008 that Deal objected to proposals by a Georgia state official to expand the number of inspection stations in the state and award contracts to those stations through a competitive bidding process.
With his business partner Ken Cronan, Deal owns Recovery Services Inc., also known as Gainesville Salvage & Disposal, one of the eight existing inspection stations.
Business records obtained by the Journal-Constitution show Deals Gainesville Salvage & Disposal earned $1.5 million from 2004 to 2008 from the salvage inspection program.