Seven ethics cases sent to House for review

The quarterly report from the outside panel that was released on Tuesday does not reveal the names of the lawmakers or staffers who have been referred to Ethics for further investigation.

The Ethics Committee can officially punish lawmakers and has subpoena power, while the OCE can only conduct preliminary investigations.

The OCE launched nine investigations into alleged ethics violations by lawmakers and staffers at the beginning of the year and has now recommended that the Ethics panel look into seven of those cases.

The OCE made the referrals on June 13, giving the Ethics committee until July 28 to make a public announcement about the investigations.

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Depending on what it finds, the Ethics panel can release the OCE’s report on the cases and opt not to pursue the matters further. Or it can move to form an investigative subcommittee, which would allow the committee to take formal actions against members and staff who are found to have violated ethics rules.

The committee could also decide to take an additional 45 days to consider the cases.

In March, the Ethics Committee announced that it was investigating Reps. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) and Don Young (R-Alaska) on separate charges.

Andrews is accused of tapping tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to pay for a 2011 trip to a wedding in Scotland and multiple jaunts to Los Angeles with his daughters.

Separately, the committee is investigating whether Young violated ethics rules with inappropriate expenses and travel costs on certain trips.

The OCE is an outside panel made up of former lawmakers and legal experts. It referred Andrews's case to the House Ethics Committee last year, citing “substantial reason to believe that he improperly used congressional campaign and Leadership PAC funds for personal use.”

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