House Ethics Staff Director Reportedly Resigns

Posted July 14, 2008 at 9:31am

The staff director for the House ethics committee has reportedly resigned.

Sources said late last week that William O’Reilly, staff director and chief counsel for the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, has announced that he will leave the committee by early August and return to the private sector.

O’Reilly refused to confirm or deny the reports of his departure, saying that he would not discuss personnel matters.

O’Reilly joined the ethics committee in January 2006 in what was then considered a major shakeup of the committee. When he was hired, the committee had been mired in partisan dispute for months.

In the wake of the committee’s rebuke of then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), Republicans had replaced Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.) as chairman in early 2005, and the new chairman, Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), fired staff director John Vargo.

Rep. Allan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), then the ranking member of the committee, refused to allow the committee to reorganize, and a months-long standoff ensued over staffing and committee rules. Republicans, who still controlled the House at the time, feared that O’Reilly — who made $1,250 in contributions to Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) presidential campaign and to the Democratic National Committee in 2004 — would be a Democratic partisan.

Hastings finally relented and agreed to bring on O’Reilly as staff director in November 2005, hiring him away from law firm Jones Day. But it was still two months before O’Reilly took his job on the Hill.

Under O’Reilly, the committee investigated House leaders’ handing of the Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) scandal, in which the Congressman sent lewd messages to a House page, among other sensitive topics.

O’Reilly is expected to return to Jones Day.