The Radio Equalizer: Brian Maloney

28 December 2004

Baghdad Jim Faces New Ethics Investigation

Will Saddam-loyalist "Baghdad Jim" McDermott, Seattle Congressman-for-Life, finally be taken to task for his unethical acts? Better late than never, but I wonder what sparked this new investigation?

(AP) -- WASHINGTON -- The House ethics committee will investigate Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., to determine whether he violated standards of conduct when an illegally recorded telephone conversation was leaked to reporters during a committee investigation.

Committee Chairman Joel Hefley, R-Colo., and ranking Democrat Alan Mollohan of West Virginia formed a four-member investigative subcommittee Tuesday to investigate the 1997 incident. McDermott was ranking Democrat on the ethics committee at the time, and the panel was investigating the conduct of then-Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga.

The incident began when a Florida couple taped Rep. John Boehner of Ohio, who was using his cell phone to discuss the Gingrich case with other Republicans. The tape ended up in McDermott's hands and subsequently was leaked to reporters.

Boehner sued McDermott in federal court. U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan concluded earlier this year that McDermott was responsible for the leak and ordered the Washington lawmaker to pay Boehner for "willful and knowing misconduct" that "rises to the level of malice." Boehner said the payment could total about $600,000, including his legal fees.

Responding to a complaint filed by Rep. David Hobson, R-Ohio, Hefley and Mollohan said the subcommittee would consider whether "McDermott's conduct violated the House Code of Official conduct," which requires members to conduct themselves "at all times in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House of Representatives."

The investigative panel also will consider whether McDermott ran afoul of a government ethics code, and committee rules barring improper disclosures and protecting confidential information.


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