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House ethics panel probing Crowley: Hill

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The U.S. House of Representatives Office of Congressional Ethics has launched a “preliminary review” into eight members of Congress, including U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), according to The Hill.

The review may be connected with fund-raising linked to HR 4173, a Wall Street reform bill, the New York Post reported. An individual close to the investigation emphasized a preliminary review does not mean the legislators did anything wrong and can be triggered by something as benign as an anonymous phone call.

The eight congressional members targeted in the probe sit on the House Financial Services or Ways and Means committees. Crowley is part of the Ways and Means Committee.

“Congressman Crowley has always complied with the letter and spirit of all rules regarding fund-raising and standards of conduct,” a spokeswoman for Crowley said. Crowley is chairman of the Queens Democratic Party.

She would not say whether the review was connected to HR 4173, which passed in December and was supported by Crowley. The legislation was designed to better regulate Wall Street and created the Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which a House press release said would be “devoted to protecting Americans from unfair and abusive financial product and services.”

The bill also establishes a process for dismantling large companies like AIG or Lehman Brothers to ensure there would not have to be large bailouts for such corporations by the federal government.

No Republican voted for the bill. Both Democrats and Republicans have been named in the OCE’s review. The OCE is also looking into Reps. John Campbell (R-Calif.), Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Chris Lee (R-Williamsville), Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Earl Pomeroy (D-N.D.), Tom Price (R-Ga.) and Mel Watt (D-N.C.), according to The Hill, the newspaper that covers Congress and which first reported the review.

A Hensarling spokesman said in an e-mail, “While Congressman Hensarling has not been informed of a specific charge, he was recently notified by the Office of Congressional Ethics about a ‘preliminary review’ it is conducting of political contributions received between Dec. 2 and Dec. 11 of last year that a source unidentified to him claimed may have influenced his opposition to H.R. 4173,” The Hill reported.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Updated 5:55 pm, October 10, 2011
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