The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday that it is reviewing misconduct allegations against Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives.
The committee did not explain the charges, but the case apparently deals with allegations that McMorris Rodgers improperly mingled congressional and campaign funds. The review does not imply a violation has occurred, the committee noted.
McMorris Rodgers is the top-ranking woman in Republican leadership and was tapped to give the GOP response to last week's State of the Union Address. She chairs the House Republican Conference, the organizational forum for the House GOP.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Boehner was aware of the case when McMorris Rodgers was asked to deliver the GOP response. McMorris Rodgers will not be asked to step down from her leadership post, Steel said.
McMorris Rodgers' spokesman Nate Hodson said Thursday, "We are confident that every activity was compliant with all federal laws, House rules and standards of conduct. We are fully cooperating and look forward to seeing this matter dismissed."
USA TODAY reported Wednesday that McMorris Rodgers had spent nearly $70,000 on legal services last year for firms that specialize in congressional inquiries. On Wednesday, Hodson told USA TODAY those expenditures were a routine part of her leadership job. "We have, on a regular basis, a number of things that come up that we have to talk to outside counsel about," he said.
McMorris Rodgers' attorney Elliot Berke said Thursday that an Office of Congressional Ethics probe has been going on for some time. "As has become an unfortunate rite of passage for many members of Congress, the OCE regularly refers matters to the House Ethics Committee for further review," Berke said.
In 2013, the Ethics Committee received 11 referrals from the OCE, according to committee statistics released in January.
The probe involves allegations she mingled congressional and campaign funds for her 2012 campaign for conference chair, said an aide close to McMorris Rodgers. The aide requested anonymity because details of the probe had not been disclosed by the ethics panel or the OCE.
Copyright 2014 USA TODAY
Original headline: Ethics panel announces probe of GOP leader
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