Congressional ethics proceedings are governed by strict codes of confidentiality, and even once the committee makes the seven investigation subjects public later this month, it won’t immediately disclose the circumstances under which they are being investigated.
That Bachmann could be under official scrutiny is known only through media reports; the possible misconduct came to light when Peter Waldron, a former Bachmann aide, raised the concern in a complaint with the Federal Election Commission.
Neither the committee nor the OCE is in a position to confirm or deny that Bachmann is being investigated. If she is not among those named in the next week and a half, it’s possible her case is one of the two still holding within the OCE. Ultimately, the OCE could dismiss her case before it is referred to the House panel — or it might end up that it was never looking at her case in any official capacity at all.
“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.”
The OCE’s report also revealed that the quasi-independent ethics watchdog opened no new cases from April to June of this year.
The OCE was established in 2008 as part of a crusade by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to “drain the swamp” of corruption and misconduct. Its job is to receive allegations of misconduct within the chamber, review those allegations and make referrals to the bipartisan House Ethics Committee when it determines that further review is needed.
The Ethics Committee then must, by a certain deadline, release public statements announcing either that it will form an investigative subcommittee into the matter or that it needs an additional 45 days to go over the referral. The end-of-July announcements satisfy those requirements.
Over the course of its existence, the OCE has engaged in more than 2,700 interactions with private citizens seeking to request information or submit evidence of wrongdoing by members of the House community.
Since its establishment, it has submitted only 35 matters to the Ethics Committee for formal review, and two have yielded official ethics “trials” wherein the eight members of the panel, selected by Democratic and Republican leadership, hear evidence and take a formal vote to determine punishment or vindication.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, along with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, right, and Annette Tilleman-Dick, left, wife for former Rep. Tom Lanots, D-Calif. Clinton was honored with the Tom Lantos Human Rights Prize during a ceremony last week at the Cannon House Office Building. Previous winners include the Dalai Lama and Elie Wiesel.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.