House Names Ethics Board Members

Posted July 24, 2008 at 12:59pm

House leaders announced Thursday the eight board members for the Office of Congressional Ethics.

In a joint statement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) named the OCE’s six members as well as two alternates. The list includes six former lawmakers.

“The new Office of Congressional Ethics is essential to an effective ethics process in the House,” Pelosi said in statement. “This bipartisan board of outside experts who will be charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct and making recommendations to the House Ethics Committee. With the creation of the Office of Congressional Ethics, we bring a new element of transparency and accountability to the ethics process.”

Ex-Rep. David Skaggs (D-Colo.), executive director of Colorado’s Department of Higher Education, will serve as chairman, and former CIA Director and Ex-Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) will serve as co-chairman.

In addition, the board will include ex-Reps. Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (D-Calif.), Karan English (D-Ariz.), former House Chief Administrative officer Jay Eagen and Allison Hayward, the one-time chief of staff to the Federal Election Commission’s Bradley Smith.

The alternate board members are ex-Reps. Abner Mikva (D-Ill.) and Bill Frenzel (R-Minn.).

“I am pleased that this distinguished group of individuals has agreed to serve,” Boehner said. “The American people have every right to expect the highest ethical standards in the people’s House — and these widely respected men and women should be applauded for the considerable personal sacrifices they are making to help achieve that important goal.”

The announcement comes two weeks after the new office was officially permitted to begin work, but it has sat dormant as leaders completed negotiations.

Under the OCE’s guidelines, board members will be appointed to serve a term of two Congresses and may not serve more than two consecutive terms, or eight years.

In addition, four of the initial nominees will be designated to serve only through the duration of the 110th Congress and must be reappointed to a full term in 2009 to continue serving on the board.

According to a report issued by a special task force assigned to study the ethics process — and that authored the legislation establishing the OCE — the board members are expected to serve part time, along with a full-time staff of aides.

Board members will not be House employees, but they will be paid a per diem based on the Office of Personnel Management’s General Schedule level GS-15. In 2008, the basic rate of annual pay for a GS-15 employee is $95,390, or $45.71 per hour. OCE board members will also be reimbursed for travel, lodging and meals related to their official duties.

Both board members and OCE aides will also be required to sign a formal declaration stating they will not seek an elected House or Senate seat for at least three years after their tenure with the office ends.