McMorris-Rodgers Ethics Probe Probably Closed

Mar 25, 2014


U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers probably won't face an investigation from the House Ethics Committee, despite a report from a non-partisan office which found she may have mixed campaign and official funds, office space and staff time. Through her lawyer, Elliot Berke, McMorris Rodgers said the ethics complaint was based on "frivolous allegations from a single source, a former employee who discredited himself by admitting his own improper conduct".

Berke said a former communications director for McMorris Rodgers, Todd Winer, was unhappy because he was passed over for a larger role in her congressional office. Winer told investigators for the Office of Congressional Ethics - an independent, nonpartisan group - that he performed campaign activities for the congresswoman when she was running for chair of the GOP House conference committee.

Winer was later fired, and now works for Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador.

Berke conceded in his rebuttal of the findings that McMorris Rodgers slipped up once and held a debate preparation session in her congressional office in violation of House rules. But he said she regretted that incident.

The Office of Congressional Ethics report found " substantial reason to believe that Representative McMorris Rodgers used congressional funds, staff and office space for campaign activities, and improperly combined congressional resources and campaign resources to produce a mailing and video for her leadership race". But Berke countered that any work by official staff was done on their own time as volunteers.

The House Ethics Committee declined to continue its probe, but it has the option to empanel an investigative committee later if it sees fit.