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House Ethics Threatens to Fire Aides Who Skip Annual Training

The House ethics committee issued a stern reminder Thursday afternoon to the chamber’s aides who have yet to complete their annual ethics training, including the threat of dismissal for staff who fail to comply.Although the ethics panel has previously raised the possibility of publicly naming those House office staffers who fail to complete the annual requirement, the committee has never done so, and the potential penalties announced Thursday — including firing, reprimand, fines or “any other sanction determined by the Committee to be appropriate” — are more severe.“It is a violation of House rules for House employees to fail to complete their mandatory annual training requirement,” states a memorandum from ethics Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and ranking member Jo Bonner (R-Ala.).“The Committee is authorized to investigate alleged violations by House employees of standards of conduct applicable to conduct. The Committee may impose sanctions when it establishes that employees have failed to fulfill their mandated annual training requirements,” the memo continues.Under House rules first adopted in 2007, every staffer is required to complete one ethics course annually, with additional training mandated for new employees and senior staff — defined as aides who are paid a rate of at least $117,787 in 2009.The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, commonly referred to as the ethics panel, provides the training through a mix of live lectures, videos and an online quiz.According to a midyear report released by the ethics committee, however, only a fraction of the more than 10,500 House employees fulfilled the annual training requirement by June 30. According to the report, just 2,861 aides had completed the training.Earlier this month, Lofgren told Roll Call those numbers have improved significantly, but the committee could not provide updated statistics.In addition, the committee also announced Thursday that individual Member offices are no longer required to verify compliance for their staff, putting the onus solely on individual aides.“The Committee is revising its guidance to alleviate the burdens of duplicative filings and to streamline the year-end certification process,” the memo states.House aides face a Dec. 31 deadline for completing their training and must certify their training before Jan. 31.

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