By Susan Crabtree - 08/31/10 05:49 PM EDT
The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) has recommended that the ethics committee further investigate the fundraising of three members in connection with their votes on the financial regulation law.
The offices of Reps. John Campbell (R-Calif.), Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday confirmed that their cases have been referred to the House ethics panel for more exploration.
Meanwhile, as part of the same fundraising investigation, the OCE has dismissed the cases against Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Chris Lee (R-N.Y.), Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.) and Mel Watt (D-N.C.), according to their offices.
In May, the OCE launched a probe into the fundraising activities of all eight members to determine whether there were any links to their votes on the Wall Street reform bill.
The OCE’s board of governors met on Friday to determine whether the investigation unearthed enough evidence to warrant further review by the full ethics committee. It was at that meeting that the cases against Hensarling, Lee, Lucas, Pomeroy and Watt were dismissed.
Campbell and Price issued statements Tuesday denying any wrongdoing and expressing confusion over the OCE’s decision.
“As a member of Congress, I have always complied with the letter and the spirit of the law,” Price said in a statement. “To suggest otherwise is unfounded and untrue. In addition, my voting record and opposition to a culture of taxpayer-funded bailouts has been and always will be unshakable.
“How the OCE arrived at their recommendation is truly a mystery,” he continued. “There being no evidence of any wrongdoing or any inconsistency in my policy position, one can only guess as to the motive behind their decision or even why they chose to initiate a review in the first place.”
Campbell also said he is “perplexed by the OCE’s decision.”
"They have presented no evidence that would suggest wrongdoing. As one of Congress's most outspoken critics of the earmark system and the waste and corruption it engenders, I have worked to make Congress more transparent and accountable to the American taxpayer,” Campbell said.
“Any suggestion to the contrary is baseless and unfounded. I look forward to a favorable resolution of this matter.”
Crowley's office issued a statement Tuesday stating that the lawmaker "has always complied with the letter and spirit of all rules regarding fundraising and standards of conduct.”
Most OCE investigations are conducted in secret. In mid-June, the probe became public after The Hill obtained a letter from the OCE to lobbyists asking for fundraising information on five Republicans and three Democrats who are members of the Financial Services or Ways and Means committees.
The OCE investigation began in late May and advanced from a preliminary review to a second stage in late June, allowing 45 more days and a possible 14-day extension for completion. In order to reach the second stage, the OCE had to determine there was probable cause to believe the allegations were true.
In order for the OCE to recommend further investigation by the ethics committee, the OCE must determine there is a “substantial reason to believe the allegations” against a lawmaker.
Not one House Republican voted for the financial-services bill, which was passed Dec. 11. Price and Campbell have denied any suggestion their votes were tied to fundraisers that their campaigns held in the week leading up to the December vote.
This story was updated at 3:53 p.m.