Politics, government and public life for Southern California

House Ethics Committee had a busy year

It was a busy year for the House Ethics Committee.

In its end-of-the-year report, the House Ethics Committee says it met 35 times in 2012. That's more than twice the number of meetings in the year before.

A great part of the committee's time is spent training Congressional staffers about the rules and regulations. It also answers questions - a lot of them, apparently. Over the past two years, the committee fielded 40 thousand requests for "guidance" from staffers via phone, email or personal visits to the Ethics office.

The other side to the House Ethics Committee is its investigative work.

Over the past two years, it looked into nearly 100 different matters. The committee publicly addressed 27 of its investigations - just under a third of the total cases.

Several of those cases involved Californians.

- Congressman John Campbell (R-Irvine): On January 26, 2011, the committee concluded that Campbell did not violate House rules, and that a campaign fundraiser had no relation to a vote on the financial regulation legislation. Campbell kept a "strict separation between all fundraising and legislative activities by hiring professional fundraising consultants to manage all aspects of fundraising events."

- Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles): On September 25, the committee closed its three-year investigation into whether Waters used her political clout to help a bank in which her husband owned stock. Waters didn't break any ethics rules, but the committee concluded that her chief of staff - who is also her grandson - knew or should have known of Waters' financial interest in OneUnited and should have kept his distance and not taken action that could help the bank. The committee issued a Letter of Reproval.

- Congresswoman Laura Richardson (D-Carson): On August 2, Richardson received the toughest punishment of any Californian. The Ethics Committee reprimanded her for her use of official resources for campaign and personal purposes, and for obstruction of the committee's investigation. Staffers say Richardson bullied them into working on her political campaign and running personal errands. The House of Representatives fined her $10,000 and issued a formal reprimand. Richardson lost her re-election bid to Congresswoman Janice Hahn in November.

The House Ethics Committee, with Democratic Congresswoman Linda Sanchez as its ranking member, has a busy year ahead. There are 34 different investigative matters pending before the Committee.

Read the full report below:

Ethics Summary of Activities for the 112th Congress

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