Ethics Panel Votes to Investigate Filner

Posted September 19, 2007 at 12:14pm

The House ethics committee has voted to empanel an investigative subcommittee to conduct an inquiry into Rep. Bob Filner’s (D-Calif.) August altercation with a Dulles International Airport employee that resulted in a misdemeanor assault charge.

However, the subcommittee will delay any further action in its investigation until after Filner appears in Loudoun County General District Court on Oct. 2.

Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) will serve as chairman of the investigative subcommittee and Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) will be the ranking member. Reps. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) and Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) also will serve on the committee.

The ethics committee had until the end of today to act on the Filner matter. Under a House resolution sponsored by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and agreed to in June, if a Member is indicted or otherwise “formally charged with criminal conduct in a court,” then the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct has 30 days to either empanel an investigative subcommittee to review the allegation or submit a report to the House describing the reason for not undertaking an investigation. If the panel chooses not to investigate, its report to the House also should include what action, if any, was taken in response to the allegations.

Filner was charged with assault in the Dulles, Va., incident on Aug. 19, exactly one month ago today.

The California lawmaker allegedly barged into the United Airlines baggage claims office, attempted to enter a restricted area and allegedly pushed aside the outstretched arm of an airline employee in the process.

At first, Filner called the charges “ridiculous” and said accounts of what happened were “factually incorrect.” He later issued a statement saying he regretted the incident and that he was tired and frustrated by the flight’s delayed baggage. He also denies pushing or touching anyone.

Filner was released that evening after being interviewed by police. But later that night the attendant, named in court documents as Joanne Kunkel, went to the Loudoun County magistrate’s office to press charges, and a summons for Filner to appear in Loudoun General District Court on Oct. 2 was issued. Filner’s arrest date listed on court records is Sept. 3, the first time he was available to be served with the summons in person.