Ethics Office Declines to Review Harman Case

Posted May 1, 2009 at 10:28am

The Office of Congressional Ethics has rejected a request to review allegations that Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) participated in a quid pro quo with an Israeli agent, stating the accusations fall outside the office’s statute of limitations.

In an April 28 letter, OCE Staff Director and Chief Counsel Leo Wise cited House rules in rejecting the complaint against Harman, which was filed by the ethics watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

“The allegations contained in your letter and the article attached to your letter date from 2005 and 2006. For that reason, the Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics agreed with the staff’s determination that OCE does not have jurisdiction to consider the alleged conduct,— Wise wrote.

Under a House resolution establishing the OCE in March 2008, the office is tasked with reviewing and referring potential rules violations to the full House ethics committee, but is also restricted to reviewing only incidents that occurred after its creation.

As first reported by Congressional Quarterly, Harman was caught on a government wiretap in 2005 allegedly agreeing to help quash a federal espionage case against two officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in return for help lobbying Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to give Harman the House Intelligence Committee chairmanship.