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Ethics Office Extends Review of Members’ Fundraising

The Office of Congressional Ethics is extending its probe of Members who held fundraisers immediately before the 2009 financial reform vote, one subject of the review said Friday.

The OCE has not publicly confirmed its investigation, but the office is believed to be reviewing at least eight Members who held fundraisers in December 2009 prior to the financial reform legislation approved in the House that month.

A spokesman for Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.) said the OCE has said it is extending its review.

“We have been notified by OCE that they are continuing their audit,” Campbell spokesman Brent Hall said in a statement. “We have readily provided all information requested, and we continue to cooperate fully. We anticipate a favorable resolution of the matter at their earliest convenience.”

Earlier this month, Reps. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Mel Watt (D-N.C.), Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) also confirmed they were subjects of a preliminary review.

A Lucas aide declined to comment when asked whether the office had received a notification from the OCE this week. Aides to other offices did not immediately return e-mail requests for comment.

The OCE, which reviews potential rules violations and refers investigations to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, conducts its probes in two stages: an initial 30-day period and a second review of up to 59 days.

The office must notify Members who are the subject of an investigation whether it will continue or close a review after each stage. Based on OCE letters to Members and lobbyists dated as early as May 24, the deadline for a decision on the first stage appears to have lapsed this week.

In the event that the OCE continues an investigation into the second stage of review, it is required to submit a report to the ethics committee recommending either dismissal or further review.

When the OCE suggests a matter be dismissed, the report is not required to be released to the public if the ethics committee agrees with the recommendation. But if the OCE recommends further investigation, the report must ultimately be released to the public, even if the ethics panel believes the matter should be dismissed.

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