ethics

Reed, Menendez press Trump for ‘immediate’ info on talks with Russia’s Putin
Duo sent letter to president hours before Giuliani suggests some 2016 collusion from campaign

Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Robert Menendez, D-N.J., at a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Nov. 28, 2017.  They want answers from President Trump about his conversations with Russia’s Vladimir Putin. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As a top lawyer for Donald Trump suggests some members of the president’s 2016 campaign worked with Russians, two top Senate Democrats want answers about whether the commander in chief properly handled sensitive information about his contacts with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Rudolph Giuliani told CNN Wednesday evening that he has “never said” there was zero collaboration between the Trump campaign and Russians. Shifting his stance yet again about what happened during that election cycle, Giuliani now says he stated only that the president himself never colluded with Russians or was involved in any potential actions by others that might constitute a crime.

Democrats cry foul as GSA inspector condemns Trump Hotel contract
GSA lawyers knew government lease to Trump Hotel might violate Constitution, but ‘punted’ on legal concerns

The Trump International Hotel's lease with the General Services Administration is in possible violation of the Constitution, the GSA inspector general said in a report Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic lawmakers were outraged Wednesday after the General Services Administration inspector general suggested in a report that a contract between the agency and the Trump International Hotel could be in violation of the Constitution.

In 2016 and 2017, the GSA decided to maintain its lease of the Old Post Office Building to the Trump International Hotel after Donald Trump was elected president — even though a government-issued lease to the real estate organization headed by the president of the United States represents an obvious and serious conflict of interest, the report details.

New members, meet the ‘slush fund’
Many Hill freshmen are already establishing leadership PACs despite association with abuse

Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., left, and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., are among the more than two dozen freshman lawmakers who have established so-called leadership PACs, a type of fundraising committee critics say is too often abused. Ocasio-Cortez and Omar have pledged not to accept corporate PAC money. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The newest class of congressional lawmakers — some of whom campaigned against corruption and corporate influence in politics — is rapidly adopting a practice that critics say is among the swampier in Washington.

More than two dozen new members of the House and Senate — including prominent freshmen such as New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney — have established so-called leadership PACs, according to data compiled by government watchdog group Issue One. Leadership PACs are fundraising committees that allow lawmakers to raise money for their colleagues and candidates.

Rep. Elijah Cummings on Trump oversight: ‘We’ve got to hit the ground flying’
Oversight Committee has already sent more than 50 letters to the White House and federal agencies

House Oversight Committee Chariman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., leaves the House Democrats’ caucus meeting in the Capitol earlier this month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee, stressed in a TV interview Sunday night the urgency of investigating President Donald Trump.

“There’s so much [to investigate],” Cummings said on “60 Minutes.” “We’ve got to hit the ground not running, but flying.”

House conflict-of-interest rules still not up to snuff, ethics experts lament
Democratic rule changes haven’t extended to Ethics panel, watchdogs say

The burden of proof to show that a member improperly wielded that influence for personal benefit remains steep, according to some government watchdog groups. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats have touted their new rules package for its crackdown on potential corruption among members and staffers, lobbying, and money in politics.

But the House Ethics Committee’s conflict-of-interest standards for members who own businesses small and large — from plumbing companies to the largest privately owned alcohol retailer in the country — leave a lot to be desired, multiple congressional ethics experts told Roll Call.

No ethics issues for federal workers shutdown deals
Restaurants, bars and more offering help for feds not getting paid

Deals and discounts popping up around the DC region during the shutdown aren’t risking ethics violations. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Federal workers must adhere to strict ethical guidelines for accepting meals and favors, but the deals and discounts popping up around the D.C. region during the shutdown aren’t risking violations.

As the partial government shutdown stretches toward being the longest in modern history, dozens of restaurants are offering free and discounted meals to federal workers, many of whom are either furloughed or working without pay. Bars are offering drink discounts and happy hour specials. 

Blake Farenthold Leaves Lobbying Gig Amid Lawsuit Over His Hiring
Disgraced former congressman hired less than two months after resigning amid ethics probe

Former Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, has resigned from his lobbying job amid a lawsuit surrounding his hiring for it. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Disgraced former Rep. Blake Farenthold has resigned from the lobbying gig he secured last May with a local port authority in Texas, as the port battles a lawsuit from a local newspaper over the ex-GOP congressman's hiring.

The Victoria Advocate first reported this story.

Florida’s Ted Deutch to lead House Ethics Committee
Panel has taken on high-profile investigations of members in recent years

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., will lead the House Ethics panel in the 116th Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Florida’s Ted Deutch will be the new chairman of the House Ethics Committee, which has taken on high-profile investigations of members in recent years.

“House Democrats are thrilled to welcome Congressman Ted Deutch as Chair of the Ethics Committee, where his towering integrity and firm commitment to fairness and justice will be invaluable to our mission to restore transparency, ethics and accountability to the Congress,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement Wednesday. As leader of her party, Pelosi appoints the chair of the Ethics panel, along with other committees such as House Administration and Rules. 

Hello Congress, goodbye Twitter followers
Official member accounts must follow different set of guidelines than campaign ones

New lawmakers will be starting from scratch to build their following on newly minted official accounts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As new House members say hello to their new life on Capitol Hill, they’re also saying goodbye (for now) to their campaign social media accounts and the hordes of followers they’ve amassed.

Newly elected members have been sharing their experiences on social media, giving their followers a look at what it’s like to transition into Congress. But some of their social media fluency will be reined in to conform with strict guidelines on how officials can use their platforms.

Harrassed Kihuen staffer slams Democrats for not acting on complaints sooner
Former DCCC staffer ignored calls and emails from House Ethics Committee as it investigated congressman

Former Democratic Rep. Ruben Kihuen’s pursuit of women was “relentless” and sometimes included women he interacted with professionally, the House Ethics Committee concluded in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional campaign workers who have experienced sexual harassment and want to hold their harassers accountable face a rocky path, according to a scathing editorial by a staffer who was the target of persistent unwanted sexual advances by former Rep. Ruben Kihuen.

“Campaign staff members who are being mistreated seemingly have no options other than either risk their careers and financial stability by quitting, or stay on a campaign and endure abuse,” wrote Samantha Register, a former staffer on the Democrat’s 2016 primary campaign, in the Nevada Independent this week.