Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) plans to reappoint all the Democratic board members of the Office of Congressional Ethics, a source confirmed Wednesday. The quasi-independent House office could still find itself temporarily hobbled, however, if bipartisan House leaders do not reappoint the panel in the near future.
The House recently renewed the OCE, an eight-member board that reviews potential ethics violations and refers investigations to the House Ethics Committee, as part of the internal rules of the House.
But Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Pelosi must still reappoint the OCE’s board to serve in the new Congress. A Boehner spokesman did not respond to a request for comment, but the majority is also expected to renominate the existing board members.
Although each of the OCE’s current board members is assigned to a four-year term that does not end until 2013, the House must nonetheless reappoint the board at the start of each Congress, just as it reorganizes its own panels.
A Democratic aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Wednesday that Pelosi will reappoint ex-Rep. David Skaggs (D-Colo.), the panel’s co-chairman, and ex-Reps. Yvonne Burke (D-Calif.), Karan English (D-Ariz.) and Abner Mikva (D-Ill.).
The OCE board is scheduled to meet Friday, but if the House does not reappoint its members before then, the office will be unable to initiate new investigations or to refer any pending matters to the Ethics Committee.
The aide could not confirm Friday when the House would move to reappoint the OCE board.
“Formally, the ethics board can’t act until they are reappointed because they aren’t on the board,” said Charles Tiefer, a professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law who has served in both the House and Senate general counsels’ offices.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.