‘Ethics Pool’ for Investigation of Bribery for Medicare Vote Established
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday each formally announced 10 lawmakers who will become part of an "ethics pool" from which the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct can select to establish an investigative subcommittee to examine allegations that unnamed Republican lawmakers last November "improperly pressured" Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) to vote in favor of the Medicare legislation (Bresnahan, Roll Call, 3/22). In December, Smith, who plans to retire this year, said that unnamed Republican lawmakers promised to donate $100,000 to his son's congressional campaign in exchange for his support on the Medicare bill. However, Smith later retracted the comment and said that allegations of bribery are "technically incorrect." According to Smith, some Republican lawmakers had said that they would oppose his son's campaign if he did not vote in favor of the Medicare legislation, but they did not offer to donate funds to the campaign, as previous reports had indicated. Smith voted against the Medicare legislation. On Wednesday, the House ethics committee announced that a subcommittee will "conduct a full and complete inquiry" into the case. FBI and the Department of Justice also have launched investigations into the case (California Healthline, 3/18). House ethics committee Chair Joel Hefley (R Colo.) and ranking member Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.) will select four House members -- two Republicans and two Democrats -- to serve on the subcommittee (Ferrechio, CQ Weekly, 3/20). Hefley and Mollohan will select the chair and ranking member of the subcommittee from the full committee and will select the other two subcommittee members from either the full committee or the ethics pool established by Hastert and Pelosi (Roll Call, 3/22). The subcommittee will take depositions and collect documents to determine whether "there is anyone to specifically accuse" of bribery, CQ Weekly reports. In the event that the subcommittee finds such evidence, the full committee would hold a public hearing on the issue (CQ Weekly, 3/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.