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Print Version-Congressman Mike Capuano Releases Report of the Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement

PRESS RELEASE

Congressman Mike Capuano Releases Report of the Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement

December 19, 2007

Congressman Mike Capuano (D-MA) today released the report of the Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement which recommends the establishment of an independent ethics enforcement entity to review allegations of violations of House ethics standards. The report was issued by Congressman Capuano on behalf of Congressman David Price (D-NC), Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA), and Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN).

The Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement was established in January by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader John Boehner and charged with considering whether to create an independent ethics enforcement entity to supplement the work of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

"The recommendations included in this comprehensive Task Force report represent the most dramatic progress in years in the drive to strengthen ethics enforcement in the House. An independent entity will greatly increase transparency and end concerns about the 'old boy network'," stated Task Force Chair, Rep. Mike Capuano.

The Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement is recommending the following:

  • The establishment of an independent office within the House — called the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) — led by a panel of six board members appointed by the Speaker and the Minority Leader. A non-partisan professional staff will be hired by the panel. Current House Members and lobbyists cannot serve on the panel.
  • The office will conduct preliminary reviews, then refer all matters subject to a second-phase review to the Ethics Committee for disposition; if no merit is found, the board can recommend dismissal;
  • The office will have up to 30 calendar days or 5 legislative days, whichever is later, to conduct a preliminary review, and 45 calendar days or 5 legislative days to review a matter in the second phase before referring it to the Ethics Committee;
  • The Ethics Committee will then have up to 45 calendar or 5 legislative days, whichever is later, to consider the matter as allowed pursuant to current Ethics Committee Rules 16b – 16e;
  • The Ethics Committee must make a public statement, or finding, on most referrals from the OCE by the end of their 45 calendar or 5 legislative day period.

This agreement incorporates a number of critical elements, from involving non-Members with the review of ethics matters, to requiring the Ethics Committee to make a public statement on most matters referred by the new entity.

Other members of the bipartisan task force include Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI), Congressman Dave Hobson (R-OH), and Congressman Todd Tiahrt (R-KS).

"I regret that after many months of bipartisan deliberations, Republican members of the Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement withheld comment on this report. However, I hope that as they review this proposal further over the upcoming Congressional recess, they will agree to work with us in moving this initiative forward," stated Congressman Capuano.

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