Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the House ethics committee who reportedly ordered the Capitol Police to block the doors of the committee’s offices for a week during a dispute over the handling of the ethics case against Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), will serve as chairman of the House ethics committee in the 112th Congress.
“The American people have every right to expect the highest standards of ethical conduct from their elected leaders, and it is important for members of both the majority and the minority to work together to ensure that such standards are observed and respected at all times within the institution,” incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said in a statement. “A functioning ethics committee will be central to that effort in the 112th Congress.”
The move almost certainly ensures that the Waters matter will be taken up in the next Congress, despite objections from a lawyer representing the California Democrat. It also puts Bonner, who has been critical of the operations of the House ethics committee under Democratic control, at the helm of the high-profile post.
In a move quite unusual for the normally secretive ethics committee, Bonner accused Committee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) of stalling on scheduling trials for both Waters and Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) in a letter he released to the media back in September.
Boehner touted Bonner’s qualifications for the office.
“Jo Bonner is widely respected on both sides of the aisle and has a deep appreciation for the importance of both ethics education and enforcement in the House,” Boehner said. “I am confident that as chairman he will work with the other members of the ethics committee to ensure there is accountability at all times in the people’s House. I look forward to working with him, and I’m grateful for his willingness to serve.”
The House ethics committee staffer manning the phones on Wednesday referred TPM to Blake Chisam, who was not in the office. Chisam announced his resignation earlier this month.