The House Ethics Committee, typically one of the least communicative institutions in Congress, has released a three-page statement defending its investigation that found no wrongdoing in the case of now defunct lobbying firm PMA Group, which was allegedly involved in exchanging campaign contributions for defense earmarks.
“[D]isclosing specific investigative steps taken in the PMA matter could compromise any ongoing criminal investigations; harm the ability of the Committee to investigate any additional allegations of wrongdoing in this or related matters; discourage those who might bring credible allegations to the Committee in the future from doing so; and chill the voluntary cooperation of those called before the Committee in various investigations,” said Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Jo Bonner (R-AL), chair and ranking member of the ethics panel.
“Roll Call has been unable to locate a single Member of Congress or company that was interviewed or asked for documents by the ethics committee, and a variety of sources said they believe that the committee did virtually no additional investigation beyond the draft reports on seven Members that were produced by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics,” the paper reported.
The ethics panel concluded in February that six Dems and one Republican, including Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN) and the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), had done nothing wrong in their dealings with the lobby firm.
After the Roll Call piece, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) filed a number of resolutions demanding more details on the ethics probe.
In response to those resolutions, the committee is saying two things: it cannot detail its investigation; and it did perform a thorough investigation.
“In reaching its unanimous conclusion, the Committee relied not only on the findings
provided by OCE, but its own investigation. During the course of its investigation in this matter, the Committee’s staff reviewed close to one-quarter of a million pages of documents,” Lofgren and Bonner said.
“The Committee investigation covered more than 40 companies with ties to PMA. OCE’s findings included summaries of interviews with five Members’ offices. The Committee investigation included interviews with 32 Members’ offices. The Committee investigation involved interviews with chiefs of staff, military legislative aides, other Members’ staff, and Appropriations Committee staff In reaching its conclusions, the Committee relied on the totality of this large magnitude of information.”