The House Ethics Committee revealed Friday that it is reviewing the alleged misconduct of four members of Congress — two Republicans and two Democrats.
In four separate statements, Chairman K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and ranking member Linda T. Sánchez, D-Calif., jointly announced that the panel was reviewing matters relating to Congressional Tea Party Caucus Co-Founder Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Chief Deputy Majority Whip Peter Roskam of Illinois, along with Democrats Timothy H. Bishop of New York and John F. Tierney of Massachusetts.
Next steps for all four cases will be announced on or before Sept. 11.
“The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee,” each statement reads.
The quasi-independent Office of Congressional Ethics referred all four cases to the Ethics Committee earlier this month, but only on Friday were the subjects of the cases made public. Neither entity would discuss the nature of the ethics inquiries, but previously published news reports provide some context.
Bachmann appears to be under scrutiny for a possible violation of campaign finance regulations, namely that she used funds from her leadership political action committee, MICHELE PAC, to pay for costs related to her failed 2012 presidential bid.
“There are no allegations that the Congresswoman engaged in any wrongdoing,” William McGinley, Bachmann’s attorney, said in a statement in late March. “We are constructively engaged with the OCE and are confident that at the end of their Review the OCE Board will conclude that Congresswoman Bachmann did not do anything inappropriate.”
Roskam is subject of an ethics probe into whether he accepted an “impermissible gift” when he and his wife traveled to Taiwan in October of 2011. Though the Ethics Committee approved the trip, the panel is now reportedly looking into whether the Chinese Culture University was truly the official sponsor, and not the Taiwanese government, which would be an ethics violation.
“The OCE is wrong to take issue with the involvement of the Government of Taiwan in planning and conducting the trip, a matter that is routine, allowed under the law, and was known to the House Ethics Committee as they thoroughly vetted and approved the trip,” said Roskam’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Kittredge, in a statement Friday. “Rep. Roskam will continue to fully cooperate, having already turned over every document and communication, made himself and his staff available for interview, waived his right to confidentiality with the House Ethics Committee, and otherwise provided any and all information regarding the trip to OCE.”
Kittredge noted that Roskam also “is taking the extraordinary step of voluntarily releasing the non-public OCE report and materials relating to their review. He fully expects the clear and indisputable facts of the case to speak for themselves, that both he and his staff have acted in accordance with all laws, rules, and regulations.”
Bishop has been the focus of ethics complaints for allegedly helping secure fireworks permits for a businessman who later donated $5,000 to his campaign, according to The Associated Press.
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.