WASHINGTON — Dozens of lawmakers have drawn scrutiny from their ethics monitor this year for everything from financial dealings to travel and campaign donations, according to a leaked account showing an active House panel secretly at work.
Seven of the lawmakers — four not previously known — serve on a defense appropriations subcommittee that divvies up money for Pentagon contractors.
Most of the names and investigative subjects, mentioned in a summary of the ethics committee's work last July, were known. But the summary — obtained by The Washington Post — shows the widespread scope of preliminary reviews and investigations the panel can have before it at any one time.
If anything, the document rebuts arguments of some watchdog groups that members of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct — the ethics committee — do little to investigate their colleagues.
The document shows the scrutiny involved some 30 members last summer, but it lumps together lawmakers who are subjects of a complete investigation with subpoena powers with those who may simply have asked for a ruling on a proposed trip to be financed by a private sponsor. Full investigations by an investigative subcommittee are announced publicly.
Committee Chairman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and ranking Republican Jo Bonner of Alabama, went further than usual on June 11 by announcing they were examining the conduct of some lawmakers on the defense panel even though no investigative panel was formed.
Members of the House Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee had steered targeted appropriations called earmarks to clients of a now-defunct lobbying firm — PMA — and received contributions from the firm and its clients.