The Committee on Ethics, often known simply as the Ethics Committee, is one of the committees of the United States House of Representatives. Prior to the 112th Congress it was known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.
The House Ethics Committee has often received criticism. In response to criticism, the House created the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent non-partisan entity established to monitor ethical conduct in the House.
The committee has an equal number of members from each party, unlike the rest of the committees, which are constituted with the majority of members and the committee chair coming from the party that controls the House. This even split has limited its power by giving either political party an effective veto over the actions of the committee. Members may not serve more than three terms on the committee, unless they serve as chair in their fourth term.
It has many functions, but they all revolve around the standards of ethical conduct for members of the House. Under this authority, it:
The committee has a long history; the first matter it handled was on January 30, 1798, when Rep. Matthew Lyon of Vermont was accused of "gross indecency" after he spat on Rep. Roger Griswold of Connecticut after an exchange of insults (a week later, another complaint was filed against Lyon, this time for "gross indecency of language in his defense before this House"). Since the early days of the House, the Committee's reports have gotten much more technical, delving into the details of campaign finance and other financial arcana.
As a result of the criminal investigation of Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), and lobbyist Jack Abramoff, there was pressure on the Ethics Committee to take action to admonish members involved in their activities. However, action was slow and the responsibility for impeding its progress was attributed to then-Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Dennis Hastert. When the Committee did admonish Tom DeLay for a third time, Hastert removed three Republicans from the panel, including chairman Joel Hefley, (R-CO). Hastert had his own personal ethical problems, such as when he failed to take action when warned about Mark Foley's sexual relationships with young congressional pages. The new chairman, Doc Hastings (R-WA), acted to rein in the panel, leading to a Democratic boycott and preventing a quorum. The stalemate lasted three months until Hastings backed down. By then the committee was left broken and unable to take action in the DeLay case, the full Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal, or other cases such as that of ranking Ethics Committee Democrat Jim McDermott (D-WA), who revealed violations by Newt Gingrich without authorization to the press.
On November 16, 2010, Charles Rangel (D-NY) was found guilty on 11 of the 12 charges against him by the adjudicatory subcommittee of the House Ethics Committee. They included solicitation of funds and donations for the non-profit Rangel Center from those with business before the Ways and Means Committee and the improper use of Congressional letterhead and other House resources in those solicitations; for submitting incomplete and inaccurate financial disclosures, for using an apartment as an office despite having Congressional dealings with its landlord and for failing to pay taxes on a Dominican villa.
On March 29, 2010, the OCE released a report dated January 28, 2010, that concluded Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) appeared to have improperly used his office staff to pressure Georgia officials to continue the exclusive, no-bid state vehicle inspection program that generated hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for his family’s auto salvage business, Gainesville Salvage & Disposal. The Ethics Committee never reported or commented on any investigation of Deal. On March 1, 2010, Deal resigned his seat saying he was concentrating on a run for governor, which excluded him from the Office of Congressional Ethics' jurisdiction. Besides Deal, another Georgia Republican, Rep. Paul Broun, accused of paying a consultant with taxpayer funds in his 2014 bid for a U.S. Senate race, avoided answering to charges by losing that primary and leaving office.
The OCE discovered, via a difficult investigation, that a 2013 trip nine members took to Azerbaijan was paid for by funds laundered for the purpose from the Azerbaijani government. The Ethics committee had asked the OCE to drop the case, only approving release of a summary finding in 2015, deeming the full report “not appropriate for release because the referral followed the OCE Board’s decision not to cease its investigations.”.
On January 2, 2017, one day before the 115th United States Congress was scheduled to convene for its first session, the House Republican majority voted 119–74 to effectively place the OCE under direct control of the House Ethics Committee, making any subsequent reviews of possible violations of criminal law by Congressional members dependent upon approval following referral to the Ethics Committee itself, or to federal law enforcement agencies. The new rules would have prevented the OCE from independently releasing public statements on pending or completed investigations. Ethics Committee chair Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) defended the action on the rules amendment saying it "builds upon and strengthens the existing Office of Congressional Ethics by maintaining its primary area of focus of accepting and reviewing complaints from the public and referring them, if appropriate, to the Committee on Ethics." House Republicans reversed their plan to gut the OCE less than 24 hours after the initial vote, under bipartisan pressure from Representatives, their constituents and the President-elect, Donald Trump. In addition to negative Trump tweets, criticism was widespread including from Judicial Watch, the Project on Government Oversight, former Representative Bob Ney (R-OH), who was convicted of receiving bribes, and Abramoff, the lobbyist who provided such bribes.
Andrew C. Tartaglino (c. 1926–1997) was an American federal government official. He served as the deputy chief of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (USDEA).Brenda Jones (politician)
Brenda B. Jones (born October 24, 1959) is an American politician from Detroit, Michigan. She is a member and President of the Detroit City Council, to which she was first elected in 2005.
She served briefly as a member of the United States House of Representatives for Michigan's 13th congressional district, having succeeded John Conyers, after winning the 2018 special election to fill the remainder of his term after he resigned in December 2017 following allegations of sexual harassment. Jones is the third African-American woman to represent Detroit in Congress. Her term began November 6, 2018, and ended at the conclusion of the 115th United States Congress on January 3, 2019.Charlie Dent
Charles Wieder Dent (born May 24, 1960) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for Pennsylvania's 15th congressional district from 2005 to 2018. He is a member of the Republican Party.
Born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Dent worked in a variety of occupations after graduating from Pennsylvania State University. He earned a master's degree in public administration from Lehigh University and served as an aide to Congressman Donald L. Ritter. From 1991 to 2004, he served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly. In 2004, Dent won election to the United States House of Representatives, succeeding Pat Toomey.
In the House, Dent became a member of the centrist Republican Main Street Partnership and the Tuesday Group. He became co-chair of the Tuesday Group in 2007. He served on the House Committee on Appropriations, and previously chaired the House Ethics Committee.
In September 2017, Dent announced that he would retire from Congress and not seek re-election to another term in 2018. In April 2018, Dent announced that he would retire in May 2018, not serving out the remainder of his term. He resigned on May 12, 2018, leaving the seat vacant.Dan Flood
Daniel John Flood (November 26, 1903 – May 28, 1994) was an American attorney and politician, a flamboyant and long-serving Democratic United States Representative from Pennsylvania. First elected to the US House in 1944, he served continuously from 1955 to 1980. Flood was credited with leading the effort to help the Wilkes-Barre area recover after the 1972 effects of the Agnes Flood.
He was censured for bribery in 1980 and resigned from the House.Devin Nunes
Devin Gerald Nunes (; born October 1, 1973) is an American Republican politician and prominent former dairy farmer. He has served as the U.S. Representative for California's 22nd congressional district since 2003, was the chair of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence until January 3, 2019, and was a member of President Trump's transition team. Nunes's district, numbered as the 21st from 2003 to 2013 and as the 22nd after redistricting, is in the San Joaquin Valley and includes most of western Tulare County and much of eastern Fresno County.
In March 2017, the U.S. House intelligence committee, which Nunes chaired at the time, launched an investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections. On April 6, 2017, he temporarily stepped aside from leading that investigation while the Office of Congressional Ethics investigated allegations, which Nunes denied, that he had improperly disclosed classified information to the public. In December 2017, the United States House Committee on Ethics closed its investigation without taking any action against Nunes.In February 2018, Nunes publicly released the Nunes memo, a four-page memorandum alleging a Federal Bureau of Investigation conspiracy against Donald Trump. The U.S. House intelligence committee concluded its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election in March 2018, concluding that there had not been collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. The committee also concluded that Russia had not sought Trump's election, but the Democratic minority argued that it was premature to end the investigation. Nunes subsequently began an investigation of the FBI and the Justice Department for allegedly abusing their powers in an attempt to hurt Trump. Nunes's attacks on the FBI and the investigation by independent counsel Robert Mueller have created concerns among Democrats and some Republicans about Republican efforts to halt the investigation and to protect Trump from any allegations against him.Doc Hastings
Richard Norman "Doc" Hastings (born February 7, 1941) is an American politician and member of the Republican Party who served as the U.S. Representative for Washington's 4th congressional district from 1995 until his retirement in 2015. The district includes much of central Washington including the Tri-Cities, Yakima, and Moses Lake. The most conservative Republican in Washington's Congressional delegation, he chaired the House Committee on Ethics from 2005 to 2007 and chaired the House Committee on Natural Resources from 2011 to his leaving office.
In February 2014, Hastings announced that he would not run for re-election in 2014.Erik Paulsen
Erik Philip Paulsen (born May 14, 1965) is an American politician who represented Minnesota's 3rd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives from 2009 to 2019. A member of the Republican Party of Minnesota, he served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1995 to 2009 and as majority leader from 2003 to 2007. In the 2018 election, he was defeated by businessman Dean Phillips.Ethics committee (disambiguation)
An ethics committee is a body that oversees the conduct of medical research and other human experimentation.
Ethics committee may also refer to:
Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics
Ethics committee (European Union)
Ethics Committee (Georgia House), United States
Ethics Committee (Georgia Senate), United States
Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology, Switzerland
FIFA Ethics Committee
United States House Committee on Ethics (popularly known as the "Ethics Committee")
United States Senate Select Committee on EthicsJames Traficant
James Anthony Traficant Jr. (May 8, 1941 – September 27, 2014) was a Democratic, and later independent, politician and member of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio. He represented the 17th Congressional District, which centered on his hometown of Youngstown and included parts of three counties in northeast Ohio's Mahoning Valley. He was expelled from the House after being convicted of taking bribes, filing false tax returns, racketeering and forcing his aides to perform chores at his farm in Ohio and houseboat in Washington, D.C. He was sentenced to prison and released on September 2, 2009, after serving a seven-year sentence.
Traficant died on September 27, 2014, as the result of injuries sustained in an accident that had occurred several days earlier when his tractor flipped over as he was driving it into his barn.Jim Wright
James Claude Wright Jr. (December 22, 1922 – May 6, 2015) was an American politician who served as the 48th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1987 to 1989. He represented Texas's 12th congressional district as a Democrat from 1955 to 1989.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Wright won election to the Texas House of Representatives after serving in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. He won election to Congress in 1954, representing a district that included his home town of Fort Worth. Wright distinguished himself from many of his fellow Southern Congressmen in his refusal to sign the Southern Manifesto and he voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1957, though he later voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He also became a senior member of the House Public Works Committee.
In 1976, Wright narrowly won election to the position of House Majority Leader. He became Speaker of the House after Tip O'Neill retired in 1987. Wright resigned from Congress in June 1989 amid a House Ethics Committee investigation into compensation that he and his wife had received. After leaving Congress, Wright became a professor at Texas Christian University. He died in Fort Worth in 2015.Logan Act
The Logan Act (1 Stat. 613, 18 U.S.C. § 953, enacted January 30, 1799 (1799-01-30)) is a United States federal law that criminalizes negotiation by unauthorized persons with foreign governments having a dispute with the United States. The intent behind the Act is to prevent unauthorized negotiations from undermining the government's position. The Act was passed following George Logan's unauthorized negotiations with France in 1798, and was signed into law by President John Adams on January 30, 1799. The Act was amended in 1994, changing the penalty for violation from "fined $5,000" to "fined under this title"; this appears to be the only amendment to the Act. Violation of the Logan Act is a felony.
Only two people have ever been indicted on charges of violating the Act, one in 1802 and the other in 1852. Neither was convicted of violating the Act.Nick Rahall
Nick Joe Rahall II (born May 20, 1949) is an American former politician and member of the Democratic Party who served as a U.S. Representative from West Virginia from 1977 to 2015. He is the longest-serving member ever of the United States House of Representatives from the state of West Virginia.
From 1977 to 1993, he served the now-defunct 4th congressional district. From 1993 to 2015, he served the 3rd congressional district. His district included the southern, coal-dominated portion of the state, including Huntington, Bluefield, and Beckley. Rahall was the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Rahall lost a bid for re-election to Congress in 2014, losing to West Virginia State Senator Evan Jenkins.Office of Congressional Ethics
The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), established by the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2008, is a nonpartisan, independent entity charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct against members of the House of Representatives and their staff and, when appropriate, referring matters to the United States House Committee on Ethics.Outline of ethics
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to ethics:
Ethics – major branch of philosophy, encompassing right conduct and good life. It is significantly broader than the common conception of analyzing right and wrong. A central aspect of ethics is "the good life", the life worth living or life that is simply satisfying, which is held by many philosophers to be more important than moral conduct.Pat Meehan
Patrick Leo Meehan (born October 20, 1955) is a former federal prosecutor and a former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives, who represented Pennsylvania's 7th congressional district. He was first elected in 2010 and resigned his seat in 2018. The district includes parts of Delaware County, Chester, Montgomery County, Berks, and Lancaster. He succeeded Democrat Joe Sestak, who ran unsuccessfully for the United States Senate.
A graduate of Bowdoin College and Temple University, Meehan previously served as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (2001–2008) and as district attorney of Delaware County, Pennsylvania (1996–2001).
In January 2018, following the revelation that he used taxpayers' money to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by a female staff member, Meehan announced that he would retire from Congress at the end of his current term, and not seek re-election in 2018. On April 27, 2018, Meehan resigned and said he would pay back the taxpayer funds used for the settlement.Peter Roskam
Peter James Roskam (born September 13, 1961) is a former U.S. Representative for Illinois's 6th congressional district, serving five terms from 2007 to 2019. He is a member of the Republican Party and served as the Chief Deputy Majority Whip from 2011–14, ranking fourth among House Republican leaders. Previously, he served in the Illinois Senate and the Illinois House of Representatives. He served as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy for the 115th Congress. Roskam was defeated by Democrat Sean Casten in the 2018 election.Shelley Berkley
Rochelle "Shelley" Berkley (born Rochelle Levine; January 20, 1951) served as U.S. Representative for Nevada's 1st congressional district, from 1999 to 2013. In 2012, she was an unsuccessful candidate for U.S. Senate. She is a member of the Democratic Party.Tom Reed (politician)
Thomas W. Reed II (born November 18, 1971) is an American attorney and politician who serves as the U.S. Representative for New York's 23rd congressional district. A Republican, Reed first joined the U.S. House after winning a special election to replace Eric Massa in 2010. Reed previously served one term as the Mayor of Corning, New York.United States Senate Select Committee on Ethics
The U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics is a select committee of the United States Senate charged with dealing with matters related to senatorial ethics. It is also commonly referred to as the Senate Ethics Committee. Senate rules require the Ethics Committee to be evenly divided between the Democrats and the Republicans, no matter who controls the Senate, although the chairman always comes from the majority party.