Wynn Stepping Down From Panel

Posted April 10, 2008 at 1:59pm

Rep. Albert Wynn (D-Md.) has announced he will forfeit his seat on the Energy and Commerce Committee immediately, citing a desire to avoid any appearance of conflicts of interest as he prepares to leave Congress next month to join a law and lobbying firm.

Wynn declined to discuss his decision Thursday but issued a statement dated Wednesday, April 9, outlining his decision.

“While I believe I’ve complied with both the letter and spirit of the ethics laws, as well as, engaged in the appropriate recusals, I am stepping down so that this issue will not be a distraction from the critical work of the committee to combat climate change, achieve energy independence, and protect our environment,” Wynn said in the statement. “Nor would I want this issue to become fodder for partisan debate prior to my leaving Congress on May 31st.”

Wynn, who was defeated in the Democratic primary by challenger Donna Edwards, announced in late March that he had accepted a job at the law and lobbying firm Dickstein Shapiro.

“I supported the new ethics disclosure rules for Members pursuing employment after they leave office,” Wynn said. “I believe the transparency provided for in these new rules are clearly in the public interest. Throughout this process, I have complied with the ethics rules and provided as much candor and transparency as possible. Unfortunately, this approach has led to unwarranted speculation about my motives, which probably explains why in the bad old days, politicians just left office to spend ‘more time with their families’ or address ‘undisclosed health issues.’”

His departure will open not only a seat on the exclusive panel, but also the chairmanship of the Subcommittee on the Environment and Hazardous Materials.

Several Members are competing for the open committee slot, including freshman Reps. John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Zack Space (D-Ohio), and Bruce Braley (D-Iowa,) as well as Del. Donna Christian-Christensen (D-Virgin Islands).

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) suggested earlier this month that Wynn could be asked to vacate his seat on the panel before he formally resigns from the House.