Mollohan nixes idea to hold joint hearings on lobbying reform


Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), the ranking Democrat on the House Standards of Official Conduct Committee, Thursday declined Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier’s (R-Calif.) proposal to hold a joint hearing between the Rules and ethics committees on gift and travel rules.

Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), the ranking Democrat on the House Standards of Official Conduct Committee, Thursday declined Rules Committee Chairman David Dreier’s (R-Calif.) proposal to hold a joint hearing between the Rules and ethics committees on gift and travel rules.

Dreier proposed the joint hearing in a letter dated Feb. 27.

In a letter to Dreier, Mollohan argued that including members of the ethics panel in the hearing would not be appropriate because “the hearing will inevitably include references to allegations regarding Member and staff conduct that have appeared in the news media and elsewhere, and these are the very same allegations that Standards Committee members will be considering in enforcement proceedings.”

Mollohan also wrote that the various proposals for amending the House rules “have a strong political aspect to them” and that ethics committee members “must approach the Committee’s work in a non-partisan manner.”

Dreier spokeswoman Jo Maney said Dreier continues to believe joint hearings would be “productive.”

“We’ll determine how to best proceed in light of Mr. Mollohan's response,” Maney said. The Rules Committee held a lengthy hearing on lobbying reform yesterday, and they announced a second hearing devoted to gift and travel rules scheduled for March 9.
Mollohan’s letter indicates that the ethics panel is poised to move on allegations of ethical misconduct after more than a year of inaction, during which time the committee was paralyzed by a partisan dispute over staffing and rules.

“The committee is now prepared to carry out its enforcement responsibilities in a fair, effective and credible manner,” Mollohan wrote.