How the House Deals with Cocaine Possession

As reported by Roll Call and various other outlets, Representative Trey Radel is to appear in D.C. Superior Court tomorrow to face charges of misdemeanor possession of cocaine. No one seems very clear on how this matter will be treated in the House so I think it is worth pointing out that House rules require the Ethics Committee to take action here.

House Resolution 5, which adopted rules for the 113th Congress, provides in Section 4(e) that “[t]he text of House Resolution 451, One Hundred Tenth Congress, shall apply in the One Hundred Thirteenth Congress in the same manner as such provision applied in the One Hundred Tenth Congress.” House Resolution 451, in turn, requires that:

          [W]henever a Member of the House of Representatives . . . is indicted or otherwise formally charged with criminal conduct in a court of the United States or any State, the Committee on [Ethics] shall, not later than 30 days after the date of such indictment or charge-

 (1)        empanel an investigative subcommittee to review the allegations; or

(2)        if the Committee does not empanel an investigative subcommittee to review the allegations, submit a report to the House describing its reasons for not empaneling such an investigative subcommittee, together with the actions, if any, the Committee has taken in response to the allegations.

As noted in the House Ethics Manual, Resolution 451 thus requires some action by the Ethics Committee whenever a Member is charged with criminal conduct, and “does not distinguish between felony and misdemeanor criminal charges.”


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