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Forum and wire reports, Published June 16 2010

North Dakota Rep. Pomeroy subject of ethics review

North Dakota Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy is among eight congressmen facing scrutiny for possible ties between fund-raising contributions and the congressmen’s votes on a massive overhaul of the regulations that govern Wall Street.

The House Office of Congressional Ethics is undergoing a preliminary review and appears to be focusing on fundraising be-tween Dec. 2 and Dec. 11, 2009 – the day the House passed its version of the financial reform legislation.

Pomeroy voted in favor of the reform bill. His office had little specific to say on the investigation Tuesday, and Pomeroy spokesman Brenden Timpe did not directly respond when asked by The Forum whether Pomeroy felt he had done anything to merit the investigation.

“They’re gathering the facts right now,” Timpe said. “And, the fact is Earl voted to crack down on Wall Street on the bill that Wall Street didn’t want.”

The Office of Congressional Ethics declined to answer any questions Tuesday from The Forum and other media about the investigation.

The preliminary review stage means there is “reasonable cause to believe the allegations,” according to the office’s website.

Preliminary review determines whether a full investigation will be initiated. The Office of Congressional Ethics, run by a board of nonlawmakers, can only recommend actions to the House Ethics Committee.

According to the office: Of 48 cases pursued since 2009, 26 merited further review, and of those, only 13 were recommended for formal investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

As part of the preliminary review, a letter to several lobbying firms sought information on the eight congressmen: Pomeroy; Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y.; Mel Watt, D-N.C.; John Campbell, R-Calif.; Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas; Chris Lee, R-N.Y.; Frank Lucas, R-Okla.; and Tom Price, R-Ga.

All except Crowley and Pomeroy are on the Financial Services panel, which initially worked on the legislation.

A review by the Center for Responsive Politics showed that several institutions with an interest in the outcome of the financial regulation bill contributed to the eight lawmakers in December.

According to the center’s data, Pomeroy received $11,250 from financial sector interests in the 10 days before his December vote. His was the sixth-highest amount received among the eight, but the data did not include contributions given to members of Congress beyond the eight under scrutiny.

An Associated Press review of Federal Election Commission records for December found the same conclusion among the eight lawmakers, but contributions from financial interests also were given to members of Congress who were not listed in the ethics office letter to lobbyists.

Forum reporter Kristen M. Daum contributed to this report