Critz Requests Release of Ethics Transcripts

Posted March 10, 2010 at 3:40pm

Mark Critz — the Democratic nominee to replace the late Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) and a former Murtha staffer — on Wednesday asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to release the transcripts of the interviews conducted with him when the office was investigating Murtha’s earmarks.

Critz said previously that he would request the release of the documents after his opponent, former state Treasurer Barbara Hafer (D), raised concerns about his role in Murtha’s earmarks. Hafer dropped out of the race Wednesday.

Critz was interviewed by the Office of Congressional Ethics as part of its investigation of Murtha and six other Members of Congress and their relationships to the PMA Group lobbying firm.

The OCE report, which concluded that Murtha did not take campaign donations into account when providing earmarks for PMA clients, included summaries of interviews with Murtha and several staff members, but Critz’s interview was not included.

Critz’s request is apparently the first of its kind for the Office of Congressional Ethics, which was established in March 2008, and it is not clear whether the subject of an OCE investigation can request the release of documents.

OCE spokesman Jon Steinman said the office had not yet received Critz’s request, but “the office will consider the request when we see it.”

Critz did not request the release of information from the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct — better known as the ethics committee — suggesting that, as Roll Call reported earlier this week, the ethics committee did not interview Murtha’s staff in its own investigation of PMA earmarks, which started months before OCE’s, was described as being broader than the OCE investigation, and could look back further than the 2007 limit that OCE faced.

The ethics committee issued a report at the end of February concluding that no one in the House of Representatives took campaign contributions into account when deciding which earmarks to request.