Kentucky Republican to resign from House
© Greg Nash

Retiring 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.) will resign from the House next week instead of serving out the rest of his term, which ends in January.

Whitfield’s early departure will set in motion a special election for his successor to finish the remaining months of his term. The special election will be held on the same day as the general election contest between Republican James Comer, who’s favored to take the seat, and Democrat Sam Gaskins.

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The 11-term incumbent announced his retirement last year amid an investigation by the House Ethics Committee as to whether his wife, a lobbyist for the Humane Society, had improper access to his congressional office. The investigation commenced after the Office of Congressional Ethics, which reviews cases and refers them to the Ethics Committee, found Whitfield’s wife lobbied for multiple bills sponsored by her husband.

Whitfield stated his intentions to retire early in a letter this week to Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) that was made public on Wednesday. His resignation will be effective at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, the House’s first day back in session since the start of the seven-week summer recess.

Whitfield will announce his future plans within the next 30 days, spokesman Robert Hankins said in a statement. 

The House Ethics Committee rebuked Whitfield in July for failing to prevent inappropriate coordination between his staff and wife, but concluded he didn’t intentionally break ethics rules prohibiting such activity.

It found that Whitfield’s wife had unusually advantageous access to his staff that “constituted a special privilege to her, which other lobbyists were not and would not have been granted.”