Panel Named for Investigation of Bribery Allegations Surrounding Medicare Vote
The House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct on Thursday appointed four members to a subcommittee that will investigate whether Rep. Nick Smith (R-Mich.) was offered a bribe last November in exchange for his vote in favor of the Medicare legislation, CongressDaily reports (CongressDaily, 3/26). 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. Last week, the House ethics committee announced that the 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, 3/22). The House panel will include Reps. Kenny Hulshof (R-Mo.), who will chair the panel, Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), who will serve as vice chair, John Shadegg (R-Ariz.) and Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.). Of the panelists, Hulshof is the only one who voted in favor of the Medicare legislation (Ferrechio, CQ Today, 3/25). The panel members were selected from a pool of 20 lawmakers (CongressDaily, 3/26). House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) each named 10 representatives to the pool (CQ Today, 3/25).
Slate senior writer Timothy Noah addressed the alleged bribe Thursday in a commentary on NPR's "Day to Day." According to Noah, Smith has become a "tarnished hero" who should tell the FBI and House ethics committee the truth or he "risks becoming a whistleblower who morphs into a criminal through lack of nerve -- a sad coda to this squalid tale" (Noah, "Day to Day," NPR, 3/25). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.