Pelosi calls for ethics probe into HHS pick Tom Price

Pelosi calls for ethics probe into HHS pick Tom Price
© Greg Nash
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday called for an independent ethics probe into Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassroots America shows the people support Donald Trump Trump speaks to rebel Libyan general attacking Tripoli Dem lawmaker: Mueller report shows 'substantial body of evidence' on obstruction MORE's pick to lead the Health and Human Services Department.
 
The Democratic leader said the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), a non-partisan watchdog group, should examine whether Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.) violated any rules or laws when he traded hundreds of thousands of dollars in health-related stocks while working on healthcare legislation, as reported last month by The Wall Street Journal.
 
Several top Senate Democrats, including Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDem legal analyst says media 'overplayed' hand in Mueller coverage Former FBI official praises Barr for 'professional' press conference Pelosi: Barr press briefing a 'staggering partisan effort' MORE (D-N.Y.), called this week for the House Ethics Committee to investigate potential violations surrounding those trades. 
 
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Pelosi on Friday took a slightly different tack. She emphasized that her years on the Intelligence Committee have taught her that "the last thing I ever wanted was any involvement of the leadership in our nonpartisan investigations."
 
But the independent OCE, she added, should examine the matter before Price's nomination hearings, which are tentatively scheduled for later this month.
 
"It is important for people who have a responsibility of confirmation … to have information necessary for their making a vote on confirmation, and that's what the Senate has asked for," Pelosi said during a press briefing in the Capitol. 
 
"Public Citizen has written to the Office of Congressional Ethics with a detailed complaint on a matter of Congressman Price's trades at the same time as he was acting upon them. I think it would be important for the OCE to swiftly move to review that information before the confirmation hearing."
 
Price has been under fire in recent weeks after the Wall Street Journal report, which found he'd traded more than $300,000 in health-related stocks while pushing legislation that might affect the bottom lines of those same companies. 
 
Schumer and the Democrats pounced on Thursday, urging the House Ethics panel to examine potential conflicts of interest.
 
"There's enough evidence here that cries out for an investigation," Schumer said. "Whether the law was actually broken, whether there was quid pro quos or inside information, is the better way to put it — we don't know."
 
The OCE has been in the headlines this week for another reason: House Republicans had voted Monday to rein in the independent investigative group by putting it under the wing of the House Ethics Committee. The move, which was opposed by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFEC filing: No individuals donated to indicted GOP rep this cycle The Hill's Morning Report - Waiting on Mueller: Answers come on Thursday Paul Ryan joins University of Notre Dame faculty MORE (R-Wis.), drew howls from Trump, Democrats, good government groups and countless voters who bombarded the Republicans' offices with phone calls Tuesday morning. 
 
GOP leaders quickly called an emergency meeting, where the OCE language was yanked from a larger rules package that passed on the floor later in the day. 
 
Highlighting that episode, Pelosi said Friday that Price's case could be a place where the Republicans prove their mantra of wanting to "drain the swamp" of corruption.
 
"It's interesting that the Republicans started the week — tried to start the week — by completely defanging the Office of Congressional Ethics," she said. "And this is a place where this can come forward."