Politics

Ethics Committee Rebukes Rep. Ed Whitfield

Kentucky congressman allowed lobbyist wife to contact staff

Kentucky Rep. Edward Whitfield said his failure to prevent contact between his lobbyist wife and his staff was "unintentional." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Ethics Committee  has concluded unanimously that Kentucky Republican Rep. Edward Whitfield "failed to prohibit lobbying contacts between his staff and his wife."  

"The committee found that Rep. Whitfield failed to take the proper care to avoid violations of the applicable rules,” according to a report released Thursday .  

But Whitfield did not break the rules that prohibit House members from using their influence improperly, the committee concluded.  

"Rep. Whitfield did not intend to violate the House rules or other standards of conduct, or to benefit himself or his spouse by doing so," the report stated.  

The committee said the congressman violated the House rule that requires members to “prohibit all staff employed by that member … from making any lobbying contact … with that individual’s spouse, if that spouse is a lobbyist.”  

The Office of Congressional Ethics  first investigated allegations that Whitfield allowed his wife, Constance Harriman, to contact his staff about federal legislation that her lobbying firm was interested in, beginning in January 2011, through at least 2015. It issued a referral  to the Ethics Committee.  

“I accept the committee’s reproval for my unintentional failure to reshape relations between my wife and my staff in late 2011," Whitfield said in a statement. "I have done my best to lead my life — both as a citizen and as a member of Congress — with absolute integrity and honesty. Despite adhering to those principles, I made a mistake."    

This report is the lowest possible reprimand for a House member. 

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