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Stark Faces Ethics Probe

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) is the subject of a review by the Houseethics committee, the panel has revealed, although it did not indicatewhat allegations it is examining.The Office of Congressional Ethics, which reviews potential rulesviolations and recommends investigations to the ethics committee,forwarded the Stark inquiry Nov. 12, according to an ethics committeestatement posted on Christmas Eve.Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and ranking member Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) said in the statement they have agreed to extend the ethics panel’s review of the OCE recommendation until Feb. 10.Under House rules, the ethics committee — officially titled the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct — has up to 90 days to review an OCE recommendation. At that time, it must release the OCE’s report, unless it opts to open its own investigation into the matter. The ethics committee may also withhold an OCE report in the event it defers to another law enforcement authority investigation, such as the Justice Department.The ethics committee did not indicate what potential rules violations it is reviewing in Stark’s case.The California lawmaker’s name surfaced earlier this year in a confidential ethics document leaked to the public that detailedinvestigations under way by both the OCE and the ethics panel.That document, dated July 2009, indicated the OCE had reviewed Stark and three other lawmakers after news reports indicated the Members hadreceived a Maryland tax break intended for state residents. OCEterminated those inquiries without recommending a formal ethicsinvestigation.A Stark spokesman did not immediately return a request Tuesday for comment.

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