WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) was cleared today of any ethics charges by the U. S. House Ethics Committee. There will be no formal ethics investigation into Congressman Whitfield. This action now opens the way for the PAST ACT to get a vote on the floor of the U. S. House of Representatives. It presently has 70% of the U. S. House co-sponsoring with overwhelming bipartisan support. Below is where the matter was left on July 31, 2014 with Congressman Whitfield’s words.
Scrutiny into Congressman Whitfield’s activities resulted from a sore Big Lick plot led by Jeffrey Howard and David L. Howard of Shelbyville, Tennessee in trying to derail passage of the PAST ACT. Gannett Washington Bureau Chief Paul C. Barton nailed the sore Big Lick crowd for writing a letter in December 2013 trying to instigate an ethics investigation into the dealings of Congressman Ed Whitfield. The House Committee looked into the matters for the past months and concluded that it did not meet the threshold requirements for an ethics investigation.
The sore Big Lick effort has now failed.
Now the people of the United States are about to see if a legitimate bipartisan effort to eliminate animal cruelty will able to be passed by a Congress that the American people do not believe can agree on anything.
“The Horses” are now depending on leadership by Congressman Ed Whitfield and an outpouring of support by concerned citizens from all across the country to pass the PAST ACT.
Ethics ends probes of Ed Whitfield, Bobby Rush
The House Ethics Committee has declined to open a full-scale investigation into whether Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) improperly aided his wife’s lobbying work even though congressional investigators found that Whitifield’s office helped set up “as many as 100 meetings” for his wife’s organization.
The Office of Congressional Ethics, the non-partisan ethics watchdog, also found that Whitfield “conducted joint meetings” with his wife “to promote [the Humane Society Legislative Fund’s] legislative priorities.” Connie Harriman-Whitfield has been a paid lobbyist for HSLF since 2011. The OCE Board voted unanimously in May to ask the Ethics Committee to create a special subcommittee to look into the allegations against Whitfield, who was first elected to the House in 1994.
Both Whitfield and his wife have adamantly denied any wrongdoing in dealing with Harriman-Whitfield’s lobbying activities.
Yet, in what looks like it may have been a partisan trade-off, the Ethics Committee will also not launch a formal probe into whether Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.). OCE looked into allegations that Rush’s state and federal campaign committees may have improperly received free office space, a potential violation of ethics rules.
There were also questions over whether Rush’s federal campaign committee had made donations to his church after the organization hired Rush’s son as a janitor. OCE found that did not occur.
OCE voted to ask the Ethics Committee to fully investigate the office space issue, according to OCE’s report on the case.
The announcement on the Whitfield and Rush cases were made on Monday by Reps. Michael Conaway (R-Texas) and Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), the chairman and ranking member on Ethics.
Technically, Conaway and Sanchez will continue to review both matters on their own authority, and the Ethics Committee could vote to take action in either case at future date. But there is little likelihood of that happening, at least based on past episodes.
POLITICO reported in Dec. 2013 that Whitfield was openly lobbying members and staffers on legislation his wife is registered to lobby on for the Humane Society Legislative Fund, an arm of the Humane Society of the United States
Yet even after this article appeared, Harriman-Whitfield continued to press her husband’s office for help setting up meetings, OCE found.
“For example, as recently as April 24, 2014, the week the OCE’s investigative period for this review ended, [a Whitfield] Aide told the OCE that he continued to have weekly contacts with Representative Whitfield’s Wife” on legislation HSLF was pushing regarding the treatment of show horses, a big issue for the organization.
According to OCE’s 26-page report, Harriman-Whifield was registered to lobby on at least a dozen bills her husband sponsored or co-sponsored since Jan. 2011, when she began working for HSLF.
OCE said that Harriman-Whitfield’s interactions with Whitfield’s office “were related to drafting language for bills, scheduling meetings to discuss legislation with congressional offices, and directing Representative Whitfield to support or oppose legislation.” She dealt with Whitfield’s chief of staff, scheduler, and other aides.
“In conclusion, Representative Whitfield’s congressional staff acknowledged that they had contacts with Representative Whitfield’s Wife concerning legislation that she lobbied from 2011 to 2014,’ OCE said. “She also confirmed that she contacted the staff. Representative Whitfield and his staff knew of the potential ethics issues related to the contacts and received informal advice from the Committee on Ethics that Representative Whitfield’s Wife could not lobby the staff. Nevertheless, Representative Whitfield’s staff continued to have contacts with Representative Whitfield’s wife related to her lobbying activities for HSLF.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, July 31, 2014
CONTACT: Marty Irby
JOHN BOEHNER, SPEAKER OF THE U. S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES