House ethics panel pushed to probe GOP

March 17, 2004 at 7:49 AM

WASHINGTON, March 17 (UPI) -- An unlikely group of bipartisan critics is pushing the House Ethics Committee to investigate its Republican leaders.

Democrats in the House and Republicans outside the House want the committee to investigate House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Tex., Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and several committee chairmen, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The critics are frustrated the panel is not looking into accusations of bribery and threats on the House floor, illegal use of campaign funds, misuse of a federal agency for political purposes, conflicts of interest, and strong-arm tactics against lobbyists and campaign contributors.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has decried "the fraying of the moral fiber of what goes on here," referring to the accusations against Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and DeLay.

Outside Congress, some Republicans have joined Democrats in the complaining the ethics panel is not acting.

"The ethics oversight process in the House is completely paralyzed," said Trevor Potter, a Republican and appointee of the first Bush administration who heads the Campaign Legal Center.

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