Report: Boehner will keep controversial outside ethics office

Incoming House Speaker John Boehner will not eliminate the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) when the GOP takes control of Congress, even though he opposed its creation.

According to a CNN report Tuesday evening, a House rules package set to be released Wednesday will keep intact the outside investigative panel that most Republicans voted against by maintaining "virtually identical wording to the language that Democrats used in their rules for the current session of Congress."

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Ethics watchdog groups had expressed worry that Boehner (R-Ohio) would ax the OCE when his party assumes the House majority next month.

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) created the OCE in 2008 as part of the Democrats' effort to reform the ethics process in Congress.

The office is an eight-member panel of bipartisan private citizens that reviews cases and has the power to recommend investigations to the ethics committee, which is staffed by members of Congress. 

Rep. Greg Walden (Ore.), the leader of the House GOP's transition efforts, demurred last month when asked about any plans to do away with the office, saying the party is "not focused" on the future of the OCE. 

The OCE's investigations are largely confidential, which had prompted criticism from those who say it needs a more open process.

Some Republican lawmakers, especially those who have been investigated by the panel, have vocally criticized the office.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have also criticized the OCE, and some of its members support legislation sponsored by Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) that would take significant powers away from the office.

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