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House Republicans Propose Punishments for Indicted Members

Chris Collins, Duncan Hunter cases pushed issue to the fore

House Republicans propose to strip indicted colleagues of committee and leadership roles. (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call).
House Republicans propose to strip indicted colleagues of committee and leadership roles. (Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call).

House Republicans are already thinking about what to do if more members of their caucus face indictment. A new rules proposal for the conference would force its indicted members of Congress to relinquish leadership assignments and committee roles.

The rules change would require any GOP member facing indictment “for a felony for which a sentence of two or more years imprisonment may be imposed,” to “submit his or her resignation from any such committees to the House promptly.”

The proposed rules would also apply to any House Republican leadership, requiring them to “step aside” if indicted for a felony. Republican lawmakers will vote on the rules package this week.

Two House Republicans, New York’s Chris Collins and California’s Duncan Hunter, were both indicted in August. Hunter won his race, and Collins is ahead in his, although the Associated Press has not declared a winner. Without committee roles, their responsibilities would be pared back significantly.

Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted by a federal grand jury in late August for allegedly using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and covering their tracks in campaign finance filings to the Federal Election Commission. The couple is facing 60 federal charges.

Collins faces insider trading charges stemming from his investment in an Australian biotech company where he served on the board of directors. He gained personal benefit and provided nonpublic information to his son Cameron Collins, who sold nearly $1.4 million of Innate Immunotherapeutics shares, according to a complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The other proposed changes include a clarification that committee leaders get to participate in Republican Steering Committee deliberations when the panel is considering removing a member of their committee and language specifying the distribution of Steering Committee votes for when the party is in the minority. In the majority, the speaker has had four votes and the majority leader two, while all other Steering members get one. In the minority the minority leader will get four votes and the minority whip will get two.

Currently, there are no no federal statutes or rules of the House that directly affect the status of a member of Congress who has been indicted for a crime that constitutes a felony.

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