Ethics Panel Reviews Bar Fight

Posted December 14, 2009 at 6:41pm

A barroom brawl that landed an aide to Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.) in the D.C. Superior Court in October also prompted a review by the House ethics committee last week.

Under a resolution intended to force the committee to act whenever a Member is charged with criminal behavior, the ethics panel reviewed criminal charges against Kosmas spokesman Marc Goldberg, marking the first review of a House aide under the rule.

According to a report filed in the Congressional Record on Thursday, the House ethics committee evaluated Goldberg’s October conviction on one count of simple assault for accosting another patron at a Dupont Circle bar in August.

Under a House resolution adopted in 2007, whenever a Member is “indicted or otherwise formally charged with criminal conduct,— a 30-day clock starts in which the ethics panel is required to either empanel an investigative subcommittee or issue a report detailing its decision not to do so.

However, when the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, commonly referred to as the ethics panel, incorporated that requirement into its own rules, it expanded the resolution to include not only House Members but aides and officers as well.

Since the resolution’s adoption, the committee has evaluated cases involving various charges — ranging from operating a vehicle with an expired license to extortion and money laundering — against fewer than a dozen Members.

But Goldberg is the only staffer to trigger a review under the rule to date.

The ethics committee voted not to open an investigative subcommittee into Goldberg’s action, the report states. The panel noted Goldberg’s punishment in the D.C. Superior Court, including a 45-day suspended sentence, one year of probation, a $700 fine, 120 hours of community service, substance abuse treatment and testing, as well as an anger management class.

“Mr. Goldberg has paid the $700.00 fine and is complying with the terms of his sentence,— the report states.

Unlike its reviews of Members, however, the ethics committee did not release a public statement of its decision about Goldberg, although the report is publicly accessible.

The ethics committee does not comment on its investigations or other review processes.

In a statement, Kosmas’ chief of staff, Leslie Pollner, said: “We are aware of the committee’s decision and Marc is fully complying with the terms of his punishment.—