Hastings Hires Suspended Ethics Counsel

Posted March 11, 2011 at 11:44am

Updated: 6:07 p.m.

House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings has hired a previously suspended Ethics Committee staffer to head a new investigative office his panel is creating.

The Washington Republican announced the creation of the Office of Oversight and Investigations on Friday, saying it will focus on agencies such as the Department of the Interior and announcing attorney Morgan Kim as the first hire.

“Conducting oversight of the Administration and issues under the Committee’s jurisdiction is one of Chairman Hastings’ top priorities and this newly established Office of Oversight and Investigations will ensure that it is done in a thoughtful and thorough manner,” Todd Young, chief of staff for Republicans on the Natural Resources panel, said in a statement.

Kim and another Ethics Committee attorney were put on administrative leave from the panel in November.

Natural Resources spokeswoman Jill Strait said late Friday afternoon that Kim had been “reinstated and was not under suspension when she chose to depart the Ethics Committee.”

Strait said Kim was resinstated to the committee on March 2. Ethics Chairman Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) declined to discuss Kim or the other aide last week.

Both Kim and Stacey Sovereign had worked on the subcommittee investigation into allegations involving Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)

The investigative subcommittee charged Waters in August with violating House rules, but in November the full Ethics panel postponed a scheduled trial after announcing it had uncovered new evidence in the case. Kim and Sovereign were suspended the same day, but the committee has never commented on the reason for the suspensions.

A House email address returned a message to Sovereign on Friday, and she is no longer listed as a staff member on the Ethics panel’s website.

“Chairman Hastings worked with Morgan Kim while serving as the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Ethics Committee and was impressed by her professionalism and ability to conduct non-partisan investigations — particularly her work as the lead investigator on the House Page inquiry. She is a valuable addition to our Committee’s staff,” Young said.