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House Ethics Committee announces reviews of Tlaib, Huizenga, Spano

Matters involving the three lawmakers recommended for review by the Office of Congressional Ethics

Rep. Rashida Tlaib is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Rashida Tlaib is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Ethics Committee on Monday announced it was extending its review of matters regarding Reps. Bill Huizenga, Ross Spano and Rashida Tlaib, which were referred by the Office of Congressional Ethics. 

The OCE, an independent, non-partisan investigative entity, referred all three matters on Aug. 16. The Ethics Committee, lead by Democratic Chairman Ted Deutch of California and ranking member Kenny Marchant, a Texas Republican, has to publicly acknowledge the receipt of an OCE referral to further review a case after 45 days, putting into motion statements regarding all three lawmakers on Monday. 

The OCE can recommend the Ethics Committee further review a case or recommend dismissal.

The matters regarding Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat and member of “the squad,” Spano, a Florida Republican, and Huizenga, a Michigan Republican, will have their next update on Nov. 14. The announcement does not necessarily mean a violation of House rules occurred.

UNITED STATES - MAY 17: Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., films a selfie video outside of the Capitol in between votes on Friday, May 17, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Bill Huizenga is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“We are aware of the committee’s release. We have cooperated fully in this process and will continue to do so,” Brian Patrick, a spokesman for Huizenga, said in a statement, also noting the OCE complaint was filed by rivals in the Michigan Democratic Party.

Denzel McCampbell, a spokesman for Tlaib, described the inquiry as old news.

“Representative Tlaib has cooperated completely with the Committee to resolve the referral, which involves the same claims over her publicly disclosed salary during the campaign that conservative groups pressed back in March. Representative Tlaib fully complied with the law and acted in good faith at all times.”

UNITED STATES - MAY 23: Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla., makes his way to the Capitol for the last votes of the week on Thursday, May 23, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Ross Spano is under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In a statement, Spano sai: “The House Committee on Ethics is reviewing my self-reported filings with the FEC. I think this is a step in the right direction as I want to ensure my record of transparency and accountability is publicly highlighted.”

Come Nov. 14, the Ethics Committee could release the OCE report and findings, and continue its inquiry; it could also release its findings and the OCE’s findings; or the Ethics Committee could empanel an investigative subcommittee in which case the OCE findings do not need to be released to the public.

An investigative subcommittee would ramp up the gravity of the investigation and could ultimately result in a hearing and a full House vote. It could also issue a report to the Ethics Committee and either dismiss the charges or issue a committee-level sanction called a letter of reproval.

There is currently an investigative subcommittee into Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida for a tweet that appeared to threaten President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.