Feb. 7, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Lofgren: Ethics Panel’s New Offices Unsuitable for Sensitive Work

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The matter of vacant positions on the Ethics Committee’s staff was also discussed. The panel has functioned without someone in its top post — that of staff director and chief counsel — since December, and Bonner said the committee is in the process of filling at least six vacancies. 

According to written testimony that Bonner submitted to the House Administration Committee, the Ethics panel expects to fill those posts — including a director of advice and education, advice and education counsel, and investigative counsel — in the “next few months.”

The committee has received 255 applications, according to Bonner. “There is a renewed interest,” he said.

Following the hearing, Bonner indicated that the committee is considering splitting the panel’s top post into two distinct jobs, both a staff director and a chief counsel, but said no decision has been made.

“In this case we need to make sure we’ve got the right person who is going to be a strong leader for the office,” he said.

Bonner declined to discuss the status of Deputy Chief Counsel Morgan Kim and attorney Stacey Sovereign, who have been on administrative leave from the panel since November. An attorney for both aides confirmed Tuesday that the two remain on the panel’s payroll.

“The full committee is working through the staffing resolution, and we hope to be able to announce something soon,” Bonner said.

Both Ethics aides had worked on the panel’s investigation of Rep. Maxine Waters. The California Democrat had been scheduled to face allegations that her chief of staff tried to secure federal support for a bank in which Waters and her husband held hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of stock. But the committee postponed that hearing indefinitely after it announced in November that it had uncovered new evidence in the case. It suspended Kim and Sovereign that same day.

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