Ethics Panel Defers Fossella Probe to Courts

Posted May 21, 2008 at 3:25pm

The House ethics committee voted Wednesday to establish an investigative subcommittee to conduct an inquiry into Rep. Vito Fossella’s (R-N.Y.) recent arrest in Alexandria, Va., for driving while intoxicated. But the committee deferred action on the probe until court proceedings have concluded.

The panel was required to establish such a subcommittee or announce why it had not done so within 30 days of Fossella’s arrest. Fossella was arrested May 1 and is due in court in Virginia on June 27.

“The Committee recommended that the investigative subcommittee defer action on its investigation until the proceedings involving Representative Fossella in Alexandria, Virginia have concluded,” the statement said.

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) will serve as chairman of the investigative subcommittee, and Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) will be the ranking member. The other two Members of the committee are Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Rob Bishop (R-Utah).

Earlier in the week, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington demanded that the ethics panel focus on the fact that Fossella may have misused government funds when traveling with his mistress, former Air Force official Laura Fay, on Congressional trips.

After the arrest, Fossella admitted to an extramarital affair in which he fathered a child.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), during a meeting with reporters on Wednesday, reiterated his call for the ethics committee to do its job when asked specifically about whether the panel should investigate Fossella’s travel with the woman now known to be his mistress.

“I’ve pushed them to do their job, they ought to do it in this case as well,” Boehner said.