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Ethics Committee to scrutinize member of the Ethics Committee


At first blush, yesterday’s press release from the House Ethics Committee didn’t seem especially notable. The bipartisan panel announced that the Office of Congressional Ethics had referred a matter related to Rep. John Rutherford in February, and the committee has decided to move forward with additional scrutiny into the Florida Republican.

Such announcements are not uncommon, and they often don’t amount to much. It tells us Rutherford is facing some potentially difficult questions, but we don’t know much about the nature of those questions or whether they’re especially serious.

What stood out, however, is the fact that Rutherford happens to be a member of the House Ethics Committee. Politico reported:

The House Committee on Ethics has announced it’s continuing to look into one of its own members, Rep. John Rutherford (R-Fla.). Is that normal? It’s pretty rare for ethics panels to begin investigations into their own members. If the Rutherford inquiry proceeds, it’s expected he will recuse himself from the committee’s decision-making.

That certainly seems like the appropriate thing to do.

As for what the Florida Republican may have done to warrant scrutiny, the committee hasn’t said, and one can only speculate. That said, Business Insider had this report a month ago:

Republican Rep. John Rutherford of Florida purchased up to $15,000 in stock in a major defense contractor on the same day that Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. According to a financial disclosure made public on [March 21], Rutherford purchased between $1,000 and $15,000 worth of stock in Raytheon corporation on February 24. The stock purchase happened the same day that Rutherford tweeted the US should “leave nothing off the table” in countering Russia.

Business Insider also reported that Rutherford “failed to properly disclose five individual stock transactions he made in late 2020.”

The House Ethics Committee’s press release concluded yesterday that the panel “will announce its course of action in this matter on or before Tuesday, May 31, 2022.” Watch this space.

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