House “Ethics” Committee in name only

Today, the House Ethics Committee concluded that Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) did not violate House rules by offering an amendment that would have benefited his own business.

Issue One Chief of Policy, Programs and Strategy Meredith McGehee released the following statement:

“What purpose does the House Ethics Committee serve if it doesn’t ensure compliance with its own standards of conduct? Today’s report proves they are an ‘ethics’ committee in name only, and further highlights the importance of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).

There was clearly a violation of the plain language instructions in the House ethics manual. Now, we learn Rep. Williams did not even receive a slap on the wrist. The original point of the investigation was whether Williams cleared his official action with the House Ethics Committee — and by the Committee’s own admission in its report, he did not, a violation of House standards of conduct.”

In 2015, Rep. Williams, who owns an automobile dealership in Weatherford, Texas, offered an amendment exempting such dealerships from requiring businesses renting automobiles to pull recalled vehicles from their fleets.

Today’s House Ethics Committee findings followed a unanimous, bipartisan vote by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) that “there is substantial reason to believe that Rep. Williams’ personal financial interest in his auto dealership may be perceived as having influenced his performance of official duties – namely, his decision to offer an amendment to the surface transportation legislation.” The OCE report also noted that Rep. Williams refused to cooperate with its investigation.