A D.C.-based government watchdog group dinged two North Carolina Republican congressmen on Tuesday, naming them on its list of 2015’s “Worst Ethics Violators.”
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust – a self-described non-partisan non-profit group run by a former U.S. attorney – put North Carolina Reps. Robert Pittenger and Mark Meadows on the list. Five Democrats – including former Secretary of State and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton – and two other House Republicans appear on the list of worst offenders. No one else is from North Carolina.
The group criticizes Pittenger’s refusal to publicly release a letter that he says he received from the House Ethics Committee approving his selling of his business to his wife after he was elected to Congress. Pittenger came under fire for the transaction involving the Pittenger Land Investments firm and the company was investigated by the FBI, McClatchy has reported.
Pittenger, who asked the office himself in November for the ethics review, has said he’s personally divested from the company and his office contends he’s complied with ethics rules for elected officials.
FACT demanded that Pittenger release the letter because it’s in the best interest of North Carolinians, especially in light of the ongoing questions over the validity of the sale and conduct of the business.
Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust’s ‘worst’ ethics offenders’ list
Meadows made The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust or FACT’s list over an issue of paying almost three month’s worth of “severance” to his former chief of staff.
In September, Politico, a Capitol Hill publication, reported Meadows’ paying severance to the former staffer could be a violation of House ethics rules. Meadows’ office told Politico they were unaware of a prohibition on paying severance to employees.
But, FACT balks at Meadows’ office’s statement. The organization says House rules require employees be removed from the payroll when not performing job duties. Politico reported Meadows’ office changed the former chief of staff’s job title to “senior adviser.”
FACT is run by Matthew Whitaker, a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, appointed to that office by former President George W. Bush.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to note that Rep. Robert Pittenger asked for the ethics review himself.