Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) could face an ethics investigation over allegations that she illegally combined funds during a 2012 House leadership race, Politico reported Thursday.
According to the report, the Office of Congressional Ethics is recommending a probe, and the House Ethics Committee could announce as early as Thursday its timing on deciding whether or not to carry out the recommendation. McMorris Rodgers has denied any wrongdoing and cooperated with OCE's movement on the claim, Politico added.
“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," McMorris Rodgers' attorney Elliot Berke said in a statement obtained by Politico. "Such reviews are virtually automatic, and as the Committee always points out, does not indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee."
The ethics report surfaces less than a week after McMorris Rodgers, who stands as the No. 4 Republican in the House, delivered the GOP response to President Barack Obama's 2014 State of the Union speech. Controversy emerged over a segment of McMorris Rodgers' speech telling the story of "Bette from Spokane" -- a woman who reportedly faced steep costs as a result of Obamacare.
But the Spokane Spokesman-Review countered that claim in a report last Thursday, saying that Bette had a cheaper insurance option available.
"Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers owes the nation an apology for lying in her Republican response to the State of the Union this week, and spreading more misinformation to Americans about their health-care options,” DCCC spokeswoman Emily Bittner said in a statement obtained by the Washington Post.
McMorris Rodgers responded to that Democratic backlash Friday:
It's sad partisan politicians are attacking Bette, whose premiums would've skyrocketed. Bette and millions more are being hurt by this law.
— CathyMcMorrisRodgers (@cathymcmorris) January 31, 2014
UPDATE (8:30 a.m., 2/7/2014)
According to a Thursday Hill report, the House Ethics Committee has decided to extend its consideration of the McMorris Rodgers case. From here, the House Ethics Committee has until March 24 to decide a next course of action.
The House Ethics Committee Manual states that an "investigative subcommittee may ― adopt a Statement of Alleged Violation if it determines that there is substantial reason to believe that a violation . . . has occurred." In a Thursday statement obtained by The Hill, the House panel said the “mere fact of a referral or extension … does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee.”