House Ethics Committee finds McMorris Rodgers misused official resources

House Ethics Committee finds McMorris Rodgers misused official resources
© Greg Nash

The House Ethics Committee found Rep. Cathy McMorris RodgersCathy McMorris RodgersCelebrating and expanding upon five years of the ABLE  Act Koch network could target almost 200 races in 2020, official says Lawmakers voice skepticism over Facebook's deepfake ban MORE (R-Wash.) misused official resources, according to a report released Thursday.

The report found that McMorris Rodgers’s office showed “indifference” to the regulations mandating the use of official and unofficial resources with abuses, lasting longer than a five-year period. The committee instructed McMorris Rodgers to pay the U.S. Treasury at least $7,500 as reimbursement. 

“This indifference led to myriad instances of resources being used inappropriately,” the report reads. “While in some of those instances, the misuse appeared to be a minor deviation from expected conduct, at other times the impropriety was more severe.” 

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The committee wrote that McMorris Rodgers was not aware of the “full extent” of the misconduct, but she “still bears responsibility” for her office. 

“Although the Committee determined that Representative Rodgers likely did not know the full extent of her offices’ misuse of resources, the Committee also determined that she should have been aware that some of the misuse was occurring,” the report said.

She has accepted responsibility, fully cooperated with the committee and made changes to improve her office, according to the report. 

The report concluded that the representative “provided inappropriate compensation” for consultant services between 2012 and 2017. The committee also condemned the office for “sloppy practices,” such as inconsistent policies and bad record-keeping, between at least 2008 to 2013, which led to official resources being misused.

In 2013, the Office of Congressional Ethics sent its report and findings on allegations against McMorris Rodgers to the Ethics Committee. Those allegations included paying a consultant with funds from political committees, using official resources for campaign activities and using official resources and campaign resources for her efforts to land a House leadership position. 

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The committee was unable to receive testimony from a “central witness,” a consultant hired by the congresswoman, until earlier this year because the consultant refused to participate in the investigation until he was finished with a separate prosecution.

In a statement to The Hill, a spokesperson for McMorris Rodgers said that the congresswoman and her staff were happy that the committee ended its review, and they are ready to move on. Furthermore, the congresswoman does not agree with some of the findings of the committee, but she appreciates the work that was done. 

"Over the course of six years and four congresses, the Congresswoman and her staff voluntarily cooperated with the Committee in full, as it noted in its report, producing 66,500 pages of documents and submitting to over 30 witness interview requests," the statement read.

"We are pleased that the Committee has ended its review and we can finally put this matter behind us. This matter began after a disgruntled former employee raised complaints against the Congresswoman regarding forced campaign activity.  She is particularly satisfied that the Committee found no evidence that she ever compelled staff to assist with campaign or other political efforts. The Committee also determined that many of the allegations raised against her involved areas of uncertainty facing the House community" the statement continued.