Several members of Congress under ethics investigation will not cooperate with investigators

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  • A growing number of members of the United States House will not cooperate with the Independent Ethics Office of Congress.
  • The Campaign Legal Center report says 5 of 8 lawmakers under ethics investigation are not cooperating.
  • 30 House members have refused to cooperate over the past 13 years, the report says.

In 2021, Rep. John Rutherford appeared to violate the federal Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act because he was late in disclosing 157 personal stock trades valued between $652,000 and $3.5 million.

But when members of the Congressional Independent Ethics Office contacted Rutherford and his chief of staff for their investigation, the two refused to cooperate.

The reluctance of Rutherford and his chief of staff to assist with Congressional Ethics Office investigations is part of a growing phenomenon in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to a new report of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit government watchdog group.

According to the Campaign Legal Center report, five of eight members of Congress that the Congressional Ethics Office has publicly admitted to investigating in 2022 have refused to cooperate with the office.

And since 2009, 30 House members have refused to cooperate with investigations by the Congressional Ethics Office, the report concludes.

Matters under investigation included campaign finance transactions, personal investments, alleged conflicts of interest, travel patterns and acceptance of gifts.

“Voters have a right to know that members of Congress act both ethically and transparently, and by refusing to participate in the review process, members make it harder for voters to know if they are” , wrote the author of the report, Danielle Caputo. “It also makes it more difficult for the OCE to conduct its review effectively.”

The Congressional Ethics Office is a nonpartisan body, created by Congress itself in 2008, that investigates allegations of misconduct by House members and staff.

The office, however, cannot compel members of Congress to cooperate with their investigations and does not have its own enforcement authority. It refers cases to the House Ethics Committee when it has reason to believe that a United States House member or House staff member has violated a law or ethical standard.

Sitting members of Congress who, according to the Campaign Legal Center, have refused to cooperate with investigators from the Congressional Ethics Office include:

  • Rep. Pat Fallon of Texas, a Republican
  • Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, a Democrat
  • Representative Ronny Jackson of Texas, a Republican
  • Representative Doug Lamborn of Colorado, a Republican
  • Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, a Democrat
  • Representative Alex Mooney of West Virginia, a Republican
  • Representative John Rutherford of Florida, a Republican
  • Representative Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, a Republican
  • Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi, a Republican
  • Representative Lori Trahan of Massachusetts, a Democrat
  • Representative David Schweikert of Arizona, a Republican
  • Rep. Roger Williams of Texas, a Republican
  • Representative Gregory Meeks of New York, a Democrat
  • Representative Vern Buchanan of Florida, a Republican

Other members not currently in office but mentioned in the report include former Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina — Meadows later became Donald Trump’s presidential chief of staff.

Deceased members of Congress, including Rep. John Conyers of Michigan and Rep. Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota, have also rejected requests to cooperate with investigations by the Congressional Ethics Office.

Insider contacted the offices of every sitting member of Congress the report accuses of failing to cooperate with ethics investigators.

Most did not immediately respond, although a spokesperson for Tlaib told Insider that the congresswoman complied with investigations by the Congressional Ethics Office and the House Ethics Committee.

As for Rutherford, the Congressional Ethics Office returned its findings — without the congressman’s input — to the House Ethics Committee, which is made up of members of Congress themselves has the power to punish other members for actions deemed unethical or illegal.

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