Congressional ethics office recommends three to House panel for investigation

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) recommended three members of Congress, or their staff, to the House Ethics Committee for further investigation last quarter, according to the outside panel’s latest report issued on Wednesday. 

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The report does not reveal the names of the lawmakers it referred to the secretive Ethics panel, but the committee announced earlier this month that it was conducting a preliminary investigation of retiring Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) based off of an August recommendation from the ethics board.

Reyes lost his Democratic primary race earlier this year amid allegations that he used campaign contributions to reimburse himself, his niece, his brother, and his sister-in-law more than $400,000 in the 2008 and 2010 elections. 

The Ethics committee will decide whether to officially investigate Reyes or not by Nov. 28.

The Ethics panel will also have to announce the identities of the two unnamed lawmakers or staff by Dec. 14. House rules prohibits ethics reporting within 60 days of an election.

The OCE also recommended that the Ethics committee dismiss allegations against two other members of Congress last quarter, which was from July 1, 2012 to September 30, 2012, according to the report.

In addition, Wednesday’s report revealed that the OCE had stopped investigating two other unnamed people earlier this year because they resigned during the time period between July and September and were no longer under the board’s jurisdiction.

In the 112th Congress the OCE has recommended that the Ethics committee conduct further investigations into 13 House members or staffers, while proposing the panel dismiss charges against 10 members or staffers.

The OCE is made up of former lawmakers and other officials who were appointed by Democratic and Republican leaders to serve as an impartial advisory and investigative board for the House Ethics Committee, in an attempt to make the secretive ethics process more transparent.