Oct. 22, 2014

Ethics Committee Finally Staffs Up

The House Ethics Committee announced a major overhaul of its staff Tuesday, hiring six new counsel positions and promoting four staff members on a committee that has fewer than 30 staff positions.

The committee has been hampered since late last year by a lack of staff to advance major investigations, including the suspended investigation of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), whose case ran aground when new evidence was uncovered and and staff members handling the matter were suspended. Waters was charged with taking official action to benefit a company in which she and her husband invested, but she has vigorously denied any wrongdoing and has demanded the committee complete its investigation of her.

Chairman Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and ranking member Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday that the committee had hired for six counsel positions, including Deborah Mayer, a veteran of the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section. Mayer was involved in the DOJ investigation of former Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), who covered up his affair with a staff member but has never been charged with wrongdoing. Mayer will be the director of investigations for the committee.

In addition to Mayer, the committee also named Miguel Toruno, Robert Eskridge, Patrick McMullen, Tamar Nedzar and Christopher Tate to counsel positions.

Bonner said in a statement, “These changes will enable the committee to move forward with its duties.”

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