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House Task Force Will Review Ethics Process

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WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Feb. 13) -- After all the partisan rancor that swirled around House Speaker Newt Gingrich's ethics case, House leaders want a cooling-off period to figure out what went wrong.

House leaders created a 12-member, bipartisan task force this week to review the process for dealing with ethics complaints against members.

And they decided the House ethics committee will accept no new cases through April 11, so the new task force can focus on the process "in a climate free from specific questions of ethical proprieties," said Republican leader Dick Armey (R-Texas.)

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Armey told The Associated Press, "After the past few tumultuous months, I think we must have a brief cooling-off period, where members can sit back and examine where the ethics process works, where it doesn't and how it might be improved."

The task force is expected to consider who may file a complaint; the threshold for beginning an investigation; the length of time investigations take; and the two-step process where one House panel does the investigation and another decides a member's guilt or innocence.

The task force's co-chairs are Rep. Bob Livingston (R-La.) and Rep. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.)

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The other Republicans on the task force are Rep. James Hansen of Utah, the new chairman of the ethics committee; Rep. Porter Goss of Florida, chairman of the ethics investigative subcommittee on Gingrich's case; Rep. Michael Castle of Delaware; Rep. William Thomas of California; and Rep. Gerald Solomon of New York.

The other Democrats will be Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, who served on the ethics panel during the Gingrich investigation; Rep. Louis Stokes of Ohio; Rep. Howard Berman of California; Rep. Martin Frost of Texas; and Rep. Joseph Moakley of Massachusetts.


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