Ethics Panel Outlines Rules for Aides Helping Transition

Posted November 6, 2008 at 3:08pm

Democratic, or Republican, House aides eager to help unload the Obama administration’s bandwagon should first check the chamber’s rulebook.

The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct issued a memorandum Wednesday reiterating the chamber’s employment rules and outlining how House aides may participate in the transition process for the next administration.

“The Standards Committee has construed post-election transition work … to be governmental rather than political in nature,” Chairman Gene Green (D-Texas) and ranking member Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) wrote in the memorandum.

According to the ethics document, House employees are allowed to assist in the transition process in the scope of their official duties, as a formal detailee or as an unpaid volunteer during nonwork hours.

“Members and officers of Congress are given wide latitude in the deployment of their official staffs, though certain restrictions do apply,” the memo states.

The ethics panel noted that professional staff on standing committees are prohibited from performing tasks other than those directly related to committee business.

In addition, the panel noted standing limitations on the use of Congressional funds for any personal, political or campaign-related expenses.

But the memo adds: “Members could reasonably determine that having staff assist the incoming administration would inure to the long-term benefit of their committee, their constituents, or their leadership office, and such assistance could therefore appropriately be deemed to pertain to official Congressional business.”