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Democrats Appoint 10 Members to Investigate Ethics Cases

The House Ethics Committee moved incrementally closer Tuesday to resuming probes it started in the 111th Congress, as Democrats named 10 lawmakers to serve on investigative subcommittees.

Under House rules, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) must each appoint 10 lawmakers, in addition to the Members on the Ethics Committee, to serve on potential investigative subcommittees.

Democrats announced their pool Tuesday: former Ethics Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (Calif.) and Reps. Ben Chandler (Ky.), John Sarbanes (Md.), Terri Sewell (Ala.), Paul Tonko (N.Y.), Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), David Cicilline (R.I.), Bill Keating (Mass.), Adam Schiff (Calif.) and Yvette Clarke (N.Y.).

Republicans had not disclosed their designees as of mid-Tuesday afternoon.

Two investigative subcommittees, which involved Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and ex-Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.), remained active at the close of the 111th Congress.

An investigative subcommittee actually completed its work and charged Waters in August with violating House rules, but the full Ethics panel suspended a scheduled ethics trial in November after announcing that it had uncovered new evidence that same month. The Ethics panel announced the case would be “recommitted” to the same investigative panel for further review.

Waters raised objections to a new investigation involving the same subcommittee members, arguing that because the lawmakers voted to charge her in August, they could no longer be impartial.

Reps. Kathy Castor (Fla.) and Keith Ellison (Minn.) were the Democrats on that subcommittee, but neither was named to the pool and neither serves on the full Ethics panel. Both Lofgren and Chandler had been slated to serve on the canceled adjudicatory panel that would have judged whether Waters violated House rules.

Another Ethics subcommittee was assigned to review issues related to Massa’s resignation from the House in March 2010 amid accusations that he sexually harassed several of his aides. The subcommittee was charged with determining when House Democratic leaders learned of the accusations and how they responded.

The panel — which included Lofgren, Chandler, current Ethics Chairman Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) — did not issue a report before the end of the previous Congress.

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