Reps. Rush, Whitfield face ethics probes

Reps. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) are under prolonged investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) has been reviewing the cases involving both lawmakers and referred them to the House Ethics Committee over the summer. The House Ethics Committee announced Monday it is further extending its review of both cases.

{mosads}Rush allegedly used campaign funds for the Beloved Community Christian Church in Chicago and accepted contributions in the form of free office rental space, according to the OCE report.

Meanwhile, the OCE alleges that Whitfield’s wife, Constance, who is a registered lobbyist for the Humane Society Legislative Fund, advocated for numerous bills that the lawmaker sponsored or co-sponsored regarding animal welfare issues.

House rules prohibit lawmakers’ spouses from lobbying their congressional offices.

The bills in question include legislation from 2011 to 2013 designed to prevent horse slaughter, protect apes and implement dog training programs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to the OCE report, Whitfield’s wife stated in email correspondence that her husband’s office was “so crucial in setting up meetings between Republicans and third parties.”

At this point, the House Ethics Committee has not established investigative subcommittees for either Rush or Whitfield. 

Rush said in a statement he would cooperate with the investigation.

“I remain hopeful that the Committee will work with me on a mutually
 agreeable resolution of the remaining matter outlined in the report
and will take into account my cooperation from the outset as well as
my willingness to adhere to any guidance that House Ethics has made,
or will make, available to me,” Rush said.

Whitfield’s office declined to comment.

But Wayne Pacelle, president of The Humane Society of the United States, issued a statement.

“From the start of his public service, and more than a decade before his wife became professionally involved with the Humane Society, Congressman Whitfield has been a leader on a wide range of animal welfare legislation, particularly horse protection.  None of this work is done for personal benefit, but because of a long-standing and deeply felt passion for stopping animal cruelty.  The groups who brought the Ethics Committee complaint are engaged in torturing horses, and have tried to place obstacles in the way of passing the legislation.”

This story was updated with additional information at 5:38 p.m and 8:14 p.m..

Tags Bobby Rush Ed Whitfield House Ethics Committee

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