GOP to replace Hulshof on panel

Republicans decide not to keep Missourian on House Ethics Committee.
Thursday, February 3, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:44 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ninth District U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof learned today that he would not be reappointed to the House Ethics Committee, a decision he believes is the result of his role in last year’s investigation of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

“I believe the decision to remove me from the Ethics Committee is a direct result of my subcommittee’s findings,” Hulshof said in a written statement Wednesday.

Hulshof, R-Mo., chaired the bipartisan ethics subcommittee that investigated the conduct of several members of Congress during the vote on the Medicare Modernization Act. The subcommittee’s findings led to the committee’s criticism of DeLay, R-Texas.

Hulshof said he did not ask to be removed from the committee and that the decision was solely that of House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.

Hastert spokesman John Feehry said that Hulshof had already served two terms on the committee and members are commonly rotated on and off committees after that time.

“It had nothing to do with his role in the investigation. We thought he did an excellent job,” Feehry said.

Three of the four Republicans appointed to the committee are new. Judy Biggert, R-Ill., however, was appointed to her third consecutive term, according to her office.

Republicans chose Doc Hastings of Washington to be the next chairman of the committee. He’ll replace Joel Hefley, R-Colo.

Hastert has long signaled he intended to appoint a new chairman. Aides have said leaving Hefley in charge would have required a waiver of House rules because of the length of his tenure. The Colorado lawmaker said that interpretation was subject to dispute.

Twice last year, the Ethics Committee issued reports rebuking DeLay. The panel’s actions irritated several members of the GOP rank and file, who criticized Hefley at the time.

Other GOP committee members will include Lamar Smith, ethics chairman from 1996-98 and a Texas ally of DeLay; Melissa Hart of Pennsylvania; and Tom Cole of Oklahoma.

The committee includes an equal number of Republicans and Democrats. So far, Democrats have announced only that Alan Mollohan of West Virginia will return as the senior member of their party on the committee.

Customarily, lawmakers are reluctant to serve on the ethics panel, because it requires confronting painful decisions about the fates of colleagues.

Hastings, a veteran member of the panel, played a role in its investigation of former Rep. Jim Traficant, D-Ohio in 2002. Traficant was expelled following his conviction on federal charges of bribery and racketeering.

That case spawned virtually no partisan controversy in the House.

The controversy involving DeLay was a different matter. In one case, the panel said DeLay had created the appearance of linking political donations to a legislative favor and had improperly involved the Federal Aviation Administration in a Texas political dispute.

In the other, the Ethics Committee chastised the leader for offering to support the House candidacy of the son son of then Republican Rep. Nick Smith, in return for the lawmaker’s vote for a Medicare prescription drug benefit.

The panel said DeLay broke no House rules. In a subsequent report, it rebuked DeLay’s accuser, then Rep. Chris Bell, saying he made exaggerated misconduct allegations against the GOP leader.

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