The former counsel to the chair of the House ethics committee, who was admonished by the panel for leaking confidential information during a review of Caribbean junkets, is still working in a high-level congressional job as chief of staff for a Democratic representative.
The admonishment of Dawn Kelly Mobley, now top aide to Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), came in the report that found Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) improperly took corporate-funded junkets to a pair of Caribbean business conferences run by a group called the Carib News Foundation.
Mobley was ethics counsel to then-committee chair Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) when the first of the two Caribbean events, held in Antigua and Barbuda in November 2007, came under pre-travel review by the ethics committee.
Tubbs Jones died in August 2008 after suffering an aneurysm. She was replaced by Fudge.
The 2007 junket was taken by five members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Rangel and Tubbs Jones herself. Mobley became involved in the pre-travel review process for the trip when Tubbs Jones designated her as the point of contact for Carib News officials, according to the officials’ testimony to ethics investigators. (Read the full report here.)
Mobley’s involvement in itself was highly unusual. According to the ethics report, Mobley worked on the pre-travel approval process for only the Carib News event and one other trip out of hundreds of submissions received by the committee. The second event was another trip in which Tubbs Jones herself — Mobley’s boss — was participating, and which was recommended for denial by a staff ethics attorney.
The committee found that Carib News officials Karl and Faye Rodney and Patricia Louis submitted false information about sponsorship of the conference, leading the committee to approve a junket that in fact violated House rules.
Mobley’s role was essentially as Carib News’ agent on the inside, according to the ethics report.
She allegedly coached Louis, executive assistant at Carib News, on how to respond to queries from the ethics committee. Mobley admitted to forwarding to Louis an internal ethics e-mail that outlined “analysis and concerns” about Louis’ own responses to questions about corporate sponsorship of the conference.
The committee found that “Dawn Kelley Mobley’s communication with the Foundation improperly influenced the Foundation’s submissions and responses to Ms. Olson and the Standards Committee before the 2007 conference.”
Here’s part of the section of the report that outlines Mobley’s role:
The Subcommittee reviewed numerous emails that indicated Ms. Mobley was in initial contact with the Foundation and remained in communication, even after [ethics staff attorney] Susan Olson was assigned to review the travel request. Ms. Mobley received and sent several emails that were not addressed to Ms. Olson, and did not make Ms. Olson aware of those emails or the continuing communications with Carib News. In some emails, Ms. Louis solicited Ms. Mobley’s advice about how to respond to Ms. Olson’s queries. Ms. Mobley provided guidance to Ms. Louis about the definition of sponsors that contradicted the definition given by Ms. Olson. In some emails, Ms. Mobley referenced telephone conversations she had with the Foundation. When asked by Subcommittee counsel of these conversations, Ms. Mobley did not recall many of these communications. …
Ms. Mobley acknowledged that she sent a copy of an internal email sent by Ms. Olson to her and Mr. O’Reilly that was sent to Ms. Louis. This email contained Ms. Olson’s analysis and concerns regarding Ms. Louis’ response regarding the 2007 corporate sponsors.
Mobley, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and former prosecutor with a North Carolina DA’s office, did not respond to TPMmuckraker’s requests for comment.
Fudge, for her part, said last week she is reviewing the ethics report. She also praised Mobley as “a consummate professional in her public service to both me personally and my office.”