Boehner Supports Ethics Panel Republicans’ Public Complaint to Lofgren

Posted September 29, 2010 at 10:45am

House Minority Leader John Boehner said Wednesday that it was “appropriate” for Republican members of the House ethics committee to issue an unusual public statement this week accusing the panel’s Democratic chairwoman of refusing to schedule the ethics trials of two senior Democrats before the November elections.

In a public statement issued Tuesday, Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), the panel’s ranking member, along with GOP Reps. Mike Conaway (Texas), Charlie Dent (Pa.), Gregg Harper (Miss.) and Michael McCaul (Texas), chastised Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), asserting that she has prevented the panel from initiating ethics trials in allegations involving Reps. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif.).

“As I recall, both Mr. Rangel and Mrs. Waters asked the ethics committee for a speedy trial so that they could clear their names, and I think the fact that the five members, the five Republican members of the bipartisan ethics committee have had to resort to sending a letter to the chairman indicates that all is not well,” Boehner said a press conference Wednesday. “These Members deserve an opportunity to lay their facts on the table, and why it’s not happening is beyond me, and I think it’s appropriate for our Members to do what they have done.”

The statement, signed by all of the Republican lawmakers on the committee, is an unusual public airing of tensions within the often-secretive Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

Lofgren, who was traveling Tuesday and could not be reached for comment when the statement was issued, has yet to respond.

A Democratic aide criticized the Republicans’ statement Tuesday, asserting that negotiations over the trial dates had been ongoing and questioning whether the statement was motivated by election-year politics.

Bonner and his colleagues proposed holding the ethics trials during the October recess, when the House will not be in session.

Anna Palmer contributed to this report.