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James Lankford to chair Senate Ethics Committee

Oklahoma Republican will take over for Johnny Isakson, who is resigning at the end of the year

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., will lead the ethics panel. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., will lead the ethics panel. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. James Lankford will take over as chairman of the Ethics Committee, succeeding Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson, who will retire at the end of the year, according to a senior Republican aide.

The Oklahoma Republican will lead a six-member, bipartisan committee charged with investigating violations of Senate rules. The committee’s most recent actions were in April 2018, when it published a public letter of admonition to Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

That came after it investigated allegations of sexual misconduct into former Sen. Al Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, who resigned after those allegations surfaced.

The current ethics panel is comprised of Isakson, ranking Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware, Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, Jim Risch, an Idaho Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat.

The House Ethics Committee has traditionally been a more active panel than its Senate counterpart. The Office of Congressional Ethics, a non-partisan, independent entity, vets, investigates and funnels recommendations for investigations to the House Ethics Committee. There is no comparable entity to the OCE for the Senate.

Lankford’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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