Tags: ethics | vitter | reid | boxer

Ethics Panel Dismisses Vitter Complaint Against Reid, Boxer

Image: Ethics Panel Dismisses Vitter Complaint Against Reid, Boxer

Wednesday, 25 Sep 2013 11:21 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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The Senate Select Committee on Ethics has dismissed a complaint from Sen. David Vitter accusing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. Barbara Boxer of using bribery to get other senators to kill his draft amendment aimed at stopping Obamacare subsidies for members of Congress and their staffs.

John Sassaman, the committee's chief counsel, said the complaint leveled by the Louisiana Republican offered "no concrete" evidence that the two Democrats had done anything wrong, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune and Politico.

Read It: Letter Dismissing Sen. Vitter's Ethics Complaint

Sassaman added that any ethics inquiry involving "speculation over draft legislative language not part of any bill or any proceedings would be unprecedented."

Vitter had filed the complaint against Reid and Boxer on Sept. 13 after reports emerged that Senate Democrats were considering a move of their own that would prevent senators and their aides from receiving federal subsidies to purchase heathcare coverage on Obamacare insurance exchanges if there was "probable cause" to believe they had solicited prostitutes, Politico reported.

Although it was never pursued, the plan was a direct slam at Vitter, whose phone number turned up in the records of a Washington D.C. area prostitution ring in 2007.

In response to the committee's decision, Vitter spokesman Luke Bolar said Sassaman had basically dismissed the ethics complaint with "no investigation whatsoever" and that Boxer, who actually chairs the ethics panel, did not even bother to recuse herself when the complaint was filed.

"Boy, they're really doing their job," he told Politico.

A Boxer spokesman responded by saying the California Democrat "chose not be involved in the decision-making process" regarding the complaint.

Vitter's amendment has the support of many Republican lawmakers, but Sen. Ted Cruz called Tuesday for it to be expanded to exclude all federal employees, not just members of Congress and staffs, from receiving subsidies or tax breaks to help them pay for healthcare coverage.

“Right now federal employees earn substantially more than the private sector does. I don’t think there is any entitlement to take our tax dollars and live in a privileged condition as a federal employee,” Cruz said, according to Politico.

Vitter aides worry, however, that expanding it to deny subsidies to federal employees as well could end up killing support for the measure from not only Republicans, but some Democrats as well.

According to Politico, Vitter chief of staff Kyle Ruckert sent out an email to other Republican chiefs of staff saying that "Democrats and moderates would easily vote this down, with very little to no pressure. They would vote no, in order to protect the millions of federal employees, their unions, active duty military and some public school teachers” who might be affected.

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