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Price Faces Possible House Ethics Investigation on Wall Street Vote | News

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Price Faces Possible House Ethics Investigation on Wall Street Vote
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WASHINGTON -- House investigators recommended Tuesday that Rep. Tom Price, (R) GA 6th District, and two other lawmakers be further investigated to determine whether political contributions were improperly linked to votes on a huge financial overhaul bill.

The independent House Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) recommended that the member-run House ethics committee pursue potential rules violations by Price and fellow Republican John Campbell of California, as well as Democrat Joseph Crowley of New York.

The ethics office recommended no further investigation of five other lawmakers in the same probe. They are Democratic Reps. Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota and Mel Watt of North Carolina; and Republicans Jeb Hensarling of Texas, Chris Lee of New York, and Frank Lucas of Oklahoma.

Ethics investigators are trying to find out if Price took money from Wall Street in Dec., 2009, to vote against the Wall Street reforms.

Yet Price says he was already a staunch and well-known opponent of the legislation, it's not as if the fundraisers convinced him to vote against it.

Price's office on Capitol Hill emailed 11Alive News quoting Price as saying there is absolutely no connection between his campaign fundraising and his votes in Congress.

"As a member of Congress, I have always complied with the letter and the spirit of the law. To suggest otherwise is unfounded and untrue. In addition, my voting record and opposition to a culture of taxpayer-funded bailouts has been and always will be unshakable.

"How the OCE arrived at their recommendation is truly a mystery. There being no evidence of any wrongdoing or any inconsistency in my policy position, one can only guess as to the motive behind their decision or even why they chose to initiate a review in the first place.

"Nevertheless, I look forward to the Committee on Standards dismissing this action. My constant allegiance to a transparent and conscious divide between my official duties as a member of Congress and my actions as a candidate is without question.

"Moving forward, I will continue to fight actively on behalf of the citizens of the Sixth District of Georgia against policies and an agenda that has politicized our economy and perpetuated a culture of bailouts. As always, my efforts to gain a more principled, limited government and my policy decisions will be based entirely on what is in the best interests of my constituents and our country."

 

According to Price's financial disclosure documents filed with the F-E-C, this past December, when the House was voting on the financial regulations, Price was accepting tens of thousands of dollars from financial institutions and other organizations that were opposed to the regulations.

Donors that month, who each gave $1,000 or $2,000, included KPMG PAC, American Express PAC, Bank of America PAC, American Financial Services PAC, Pricewaterhousecoopers PAC, Morgan Stanley PAC and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance PAC

And that month, Price voted against the legislation.

But not only has Price been an outspoken opponent of the Wall Street reform legislation from the start, fundraisers are usually scheduled months in advance -- before anyone knows when a particular piece of legislation will come up for a vote.

Even so, congressional watchdog groups such as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) wonder whether Wall Street donors were rewarding Congressmembers like Price for their opposition -- which is, after all, perfectly legal, even if it can be ethically questionable.

"What the public needs to worry about is whether members of Congress are selling legislation for campaign contributions," CREW's Executive Director, Melanie Sloan, told 11Alive News on Tuesday. "But for the Office of Congressional Ethics to move forward, it suggests that they have more than just an appearance problem, that they may also have some emails or some people willing to testify about a connection between the member of Congress's vote and campaign contributions he received."

Sloan supports public financing of campaigns instead of private donations, in order to prevent politicians and donors from having even an appearance of a conflict of interest with each other.

There is no timetable for what happens next in the investigation of Price and the others.

But whatever happens, it will not be a 2010 campaign issue for Price.

He is unopposed for re-election this year.

Link:  Rep. Price's F.E.C. report showing contributions he received in Dec., 2009 

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