By Henry C. Jackson
WASHINGTON: Allegations surrounding Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and her brief presidential campaign are getting further examination from the House Ethics Committee.
The panel said Friday it is extending until at least September a review of Bachmann’s case, which was referred to it by the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative body.
The committee announced similar extensions of OCE investigations for three other members of Congress: Reps. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., Pete Roskam, R-Ill., and John Tierney, D-Mass. The panel said it would announce further action on those cases, too, in September.
William McGinley, a lawyer for Bachmann, acknowledged the OCE investigation in March, saying it was tied to her presidential bid and that the tea party favorite was cooperating with the investigation. Bachmann has denied any wrongdoing but announced in May she would not seek re-election.
McGinley said the committee’s extension was routine and expressed confidence that Bachmann will be vindicated.
“Today’s statement by the House Ethics Committee emphasizes that its customary 45-day extension does not ‘indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee,”’ McGinley said. “It does not speak to the merits of this matter, and any inference to the contrary is false.”
He added, “We are confident the committee will discover, upon proper review, that the highly politicized allegations made at the OCE level were baseless and without merit.”
The OCE is an independent House panel run by a board of directors who are outside Congress, although some of them are former lawmakers. The OCE’s investigative reports and recommendations for further investigation go to the member-run House Ethics Committee, the panel that decides whether rules were violated. The committee can then vote to continue investigations, launch its own formal investigations or dismiss cases outright.