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Published September 01 2010

Pomeroy pleased as probe over ethics is dismissed

North Dakota Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy said he’s glad the Office of Congressional Ethics has unanimously decided to drop its inquiry into whether his vote on financial regulation reform was influenced by campaign contributions.

Pomeroy had been among eight congressmen facing scrutiny since early June by the independent, nonpartisan ethics office.

He said he learned of the decision Monday by the office’s board to drop the review into his actions.

“There was nothing else for them to conclude,” Pomeroy said Tuesday. “They sent us an e-mail saying that there was no appearance of undue influence. … It was a unanimous vote to dismiss.”

The office also recommended no further review into four of the other congressmen.

But for the remaining three – Democrat Joseph Crowley of New York and Republicans John Campbell of California and Tom Price of Georgia – the ethics office board is recommending that the House committee pursue an official investigation into potential rules violations.

Pomeroy came under fire in mid-June when it was first reported that the eight lawmakers were facing a preliminary review, which meant there was “reasonable cause” to believe the allegations against them.

Pomeroy said then he didn’t know why he was being targeted by the ethics inquiry, and said Tuesday he still didn’t know.

“It came down to this, which is so curious: They were looking whether there was any undue influence from Wall Street, and I voted against Wall Street,” Pomeroy said. “It never did make any sense to me.”

“My own thought is that this could have been resolved earlier and should have been resolved earlier, but it’s now resolved and I’m glad for that,” he said.

Pomeroy said he still has doubts about the integrity of the process used by the ethics office because “they created a cloud over those of us under review, and there was nothing there.”

“If you call into question someone’s integrity, you better have very good grounds to be publicly talking about that,” Pomeroy said.

OCE spokesman Jon Steinman declined to comment Tuesday about the office’s decision to drop Pomeroy’s case.

According to OCE’s review process, the office is not required to disclose any information if a review is terminated without a recommendation to the House ethics committee.

Earlier this summer, the North Dakota Republican Party was aggressively critical of Pomeroy’s involvement in the ethics probe and accused him of “suspiciously defending himself” and not being truthful with North Dakotans.

NDGOP Executive Director Adam Jones said Tuesday, “It’s unfortunate that we have a representative whose ethics would be in question to begin with.”

“It just shows that he operates in a gray area where he would be placed in an investigation,” Jones said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541