Flake Tries Again to Force Ethics to Detail Member-PMA Probe

Posted March 25, 2010 at 9:39am

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is making another attempt to force the House ethics committee to release details of its investigation into Members’ interactions with the now-defunct PMA Group lobbying firm.

The ethics committee — formally known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct — issued a report in February declaring that no Member of the House and no House staff had acted inappropriately in providing earmarks to companies that had hired PMA to lobby on their behalf.

The independent Office of Congressional Ethics had suggested that the ethics committee dismiss cases against five Members but conduct a further investigation into two Members, suggesting there was evidence of a link between the earmarks provided by the Members and campaign contributions made by the companies.

The Justice Department is also investigating PMA, which closed its doors after an FBI raid in November 2008.

But the ethics panel reported that after an exhaustive investigation, it had found no evidence of impropriety. Roll Call reported earlier this month that it is not clear that the ethics committee actually interviewed any Members or contacted any of the companies involved.

Last week the House referred to ethics a resolution offered by Flake that would require the committee report how many people it interviewed, how many subpoenas it issued and how many documents it reviewed in the PMA investigation. The resolution set a seven-day deadline for the panel to report.

Since those seven days have expired, Flake is now reintroducing the resolution, and his spokesman said he is prepared to continue introducing a similar resolution every time the seven-day deadline passes.

“Here we are a week later, we haven’t heard anything from the Standards Committee,” Flake said on the floor Thursday morning. “I hope we finally get an answer as to the extent of the investigation.”

The measure is a privileged resolution, meaning the House has to vote on it within 48 hours.