Ethics Office: No Random Audits of Members

Posted June 14, 2010 at 3:51pm

The Office of Congressional Ethics is not conducting random audits of Members, the agency’s spokesman said Monday, after a news report that suggested its investigators are probing eight House lawmakers.

On Monday, the Hill newspaper reported that the OCE, which is tasked with reviewing suspected rules violations and referring investigations to the House ethics panel, has approached lobbyists for information on their relationship, including fundraising and campaign contribution data, to eight Members.

The article, based on letters sent to an unidentified lobbyist, said the eight lawmakers are Reps. John Campbell (R-Calif.), Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Mel Watt (D-N.C.).

According to the Hill, one lawmaker’s office referred to the inquiry as a “routine audit.”

OCE spokesman Jon Steinman declined to comment on the article or the letters that prompted it, and he refused to confirm or deny any investigations.

The OCE does not typically confirm the existence of its investigations until its reports are released to the public.

But Steinman, who emphasized that he was issuing a general statement on office procedure, said: “We investigative specific allegations. We do not conduct fishing expeditions.”