Bonior: GOP Evading Gingrich Ethics Case
By Ann Curley/CNN
WASHINGTON (Nov. 21) -- Reacting to newspaper reports that House Majority Leader Dick Armey is planning to replace members of the House Ethics Committee investigating House Speaker Newt Gingrich, House Democratic Whip Rep. David Bonior lambasted Republicans for "trying to rig the jury."
"From the very beginning they have tried to block, stonewall and delay this investigation and now that we're about to reach a verdict, it looks like now they're trying to rig the jury," Bonior stormed to reporters.
On Wednesday, when he accepted his renomination as House Speaker, Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) dubbed Armey his "CEO," responsible for the day-to-day running and scheduling of the House. Under those orders, Armey will look at the possibility of shuffling all House committees assignments, including the possibility of making changes on the House Ethics Committee.
Armey spokeswoman Michelle Davis denied that Armey has made any specific move to change the members of the House Ethics Committee. Davis explained that the House rules say that the speaker recommends who sits on the Ethics Committee, but because the speaker is currently under investigation he passed those powers to Armey.
Davis said that Armey "simply called [House Democratic leader Dick] Gephardt and said that "we need to talk about this." Davis denies that Armey has any plans to remove current members from the Ethics Committee.
When a reporter brought up the denial from Armey's office that he has made such a proposal, Bonior said that Armey is "leaving the door open" for some Republicans on the committee to get out of their responsibility of finishing up the Gingrich case. Bonior did admit that if the committee finishes the investigation by the end of the year, that the point will be moot.
Democrats' outrage stems from mistrust that the Ethics Investigative Subcommittee will conclude their investigation of Gingrich before the end of this year.
Bonior accused Republican members of the committee of trying to evade their responsibility for completing the case, saying "Chairwoman Nancy Johnson has routinely disregarded the rules of this committee for more than two years, she's created this situation through two years of stonewalling and delay and now she's trying to walk away from it."
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