Rep. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) was reportedly cleared of one House ethics complaint Wednesday, only to have another fired at him.
The first case was sparked by a Huffington Post article about radio interviews with Cotton in which the talk show host's remarks made it appear that the congressman was fundraising from the House grounds for his Senate race against Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.). If true, that would violate ethics rules.
The new case comes from a retired Arkansas state judge, who said he is concerned that Cotton may have broken ethics rules by failing to disclose pertinent information on his financial disclosure forms.
A House ethics panel dismissed a complaint against Arkansas congressman and Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Tom Cotton that accused him of illegally soliciting donations during a radio interview at the U.S. Capitol, according to a letter released by his campaign Wednesday.
The letter was released as Cotton faced a new ethics complaint from a former chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court accusing the freshman lawmaker of breaking House rules by not disclosing specific clients for whom he worked as a management consultant.
The House Ethics Committee told Cotton in a letter dated March 13 that it had unanimously dismissed the complaint made in October by the state Democratic Party. The chief counsel for the committee and a spokeswoman for the Office of Congressional Ethics declined to comment, and the panel said in the letter that it did not intend to release the letter publicly.
"As a result of its review, the committee unanimously voted to dismiss the matter, consistent with the recommendation in the OCE's referral," the letter said. "Therefore, the committee considers this matter closed."
The new complaint from the former Arkansas justice, Jack Holt, alleges that Cotton broke House ethics rules by not naming the clients to whom he had provided services worth more than $5,000 when he worked for consulting giant McKinsey & Company.
"By refusing to identify the private clients he worked for during the years immediately prior to his election, Mr. Cotton has effectively thwarted the purpose of federal financial disclosure requirements," Holt wrote. "Failure to report client income also raises questions about the nature of Mr. Cotton’s work on behalf of these entities. Such concerns are precisely the reason why disclosure of such clients is required, and Mr. Cotton’s failure to comply with these simple requirements makes it impossible for the people of Arkansas to understand how his private work may affect his actions as a public official.”
Cotton spokesman David Ray told AP that the congressman, who is serving his first term in the House, has adhered to all disclosure rules.
"Just like the Democratic Party's previous complaints, this one is false, frivolous and wholly without merit," Ray said. "Tom has not only followed all ethics rules regarding financial disclosure, he has gone above and beyond the requirements by providing more information than he had to."