Rep. Whitfield to retire amid ethics probe

Rep. Ed WhitfieldWayne (Ed) Edward WhitfieldWhy Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog What Azerbaijan wants from Israel? Overnight Energy: Green group sues Exxon over climate science MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that he will not seek reelection in 2016.

Whitfield is the subject of a House Ethics Committee investigation regarding allegations that he improperly used his office to help his wife lobby Congress for the Humane Society.

But the Kentucky Republican made no mention of the ethics investigation while announcing his retirement.

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“Representing the people of the 1st District for 21 years has been an honor,” Whitfield said in a statement. “While many Americans are frustrated with the institution of Congress, I still believe that politics is a worthy vocation and I know many men and women of character will always be willing to serve.”

House rules prohibit lawmakers’ spouses from lobbying their offices. Whitfield’s wife, Constance, is a registered lobbyist for the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

The House Ethics Committee announced in March that it had opened an investigation following a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics alleging that Whitfield’s wife lobbied for multiple bills her husband supported regarding animal welfare. Whitfield has denied the allegations, maintaining that he introduced the legislation of his own volition.

The bills under scrutiny included ones to establish dog-training programs for military veterans with post-traumatic stress and to prevent the soring of Tennessee Walking Horses. 

Whitfield has served in the House since 1995. He is the ninth House member this year to announce plans to retire.