Is it or isn’t it?
Media reports based on anonymous sources are now in conflict about whether the ethics committee is still investigating allegations involving former Rep. Eric Massa.
The ethics committee, perhaps the most opaque institution in Congress, has been mum on the question. So let’s review what’s been reported.
The panel announced March 4 that it was investigating unspecified allegations against Massa. The New York Democrat subsequently resigned his seat on March 8.
Then, on March 10, the Washington Post, followed by Politico, reported that the committee had decided to close the investigation because “resignation put him outside the reach of any punishment the committee could dole out, and would render any findings of wrongdoing irrelevant.”
An ethics law expert told TPMmuckraker that, contra some media reports, the committee could have continued the investigation and issued a report, even though Massa had left Congress.
In the Post’s latest Massa story, the paper is still reporting that the ethics probe is over:
On Wednesday afternoon, the ethics panel met privately and decided to end the Massa investigation, citing the fact that he is no longer a member of Congress.
Meanwhile, Politico, is reporting that a “senior Democratic aide” claims the ethics probe never ended:
But Thursday, a senior Democratic aide insisted that the probe was ongoing.
“The ethics committee never ended its [Massa] investigation,” the aide said. “The stories saying that it had were wrong.”
In a separate development, the House voted yesterday to refer to the committee a resolution seeking an investigation of what Democratic leaders knew about the Massa allegations before they were publicly reported.