Two congressmen are calling on the Office of Congressional Ethics to release details of an investigation into lawmakers linked to the PMA Group pay-to-play scheme, after the House Ethics Committee has refused to reveal information it collected during its own probe of the case.
On Feb. 26, the House Ethics Committee issued a report which cleared seven members of congress of exchanging earmarks for campaign donations with the now-defunct PMA Group. However, the committee has declined to disclose details of the investigation.
Rep. Jeffrey Flake (R-AZ), in photo, and Rep. Paul Hodes (D-NH) sent a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent ethics review board, on Thursday, asking that the board make public the documents it compiled during its own seven PMA-related probes.
“[R]eleasing the collected documents would be a crucial step toward transparency and would provide Members with critical assistance in navigating the muddied ethical waters of the earmarking process,” said the congressmen.
In the letter, Flake and Hodes also slammed the Feb. 26 House Ethics Committee’s brief, 5-page report on the PMA investigation, which cleared all members of congress who were examined. These members included the late Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA), Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-IN), Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) and Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS).
“Unfortunately, the [committee’s] report has done anything but put these matters to rest,” they wrote. “It also did nothing to increase the public’s confidence in the House’s ability to police itself in the area of campaign contributions and earmarks.”
Rep. Flake has been pressing the House Ethics Committee to release information regarding its PMA probe for months, but has been continuously stonewalled.
Earlier this week, the House Ethics Committee took the unusual move of defending its refusal to disclose investigation materials.
“Requiring the disclosure of the details into any investigative body’s activities would damage its ability to conduct its activities,” said the committee in a statement released last Monday. “Ethics investigations, in particular, rely not only upon subpoenas, but upon voluntary information.”
It is unclear whether the Office of Congressional Ethics will with comply with Hodes and Flake’s request to release PMA-related documents it compiled. The office is made up of four Democrats and four Republicans from outside of congress. During its own investigation of the PMA case, the office cleared five of the seven lawmakers implicated, but recommended more in-depth examinations of Vicslosky and Tiahrt.
Alana Goodman is NLPC’s Capitol Hill Reporter