The Washington Post

Senate ethics panel says it imposed no sanctions in 2011

The Senate ethics committee says the chamber was squeaky clean clean in 2011. (Deb Lindsey/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST)

Members of the upper chamber must have been on their best behavior, because of the 77 complaints brought to the Ethics Committee, the panel ultimately decided that none of them merited slaps on the wrist--or worse.

Those figures are in the committee’s annual report submitted to the Senate Tuesday. In the report, the committee said it initially dismissed 58 of the 77 complaints--which can be brought by the committee, any member of the public, Senate staff, or senators themselves--because they didn’t actually constitute a violation of Senate rules.

The committee made a “preliminary inquiry” into eight of the complaints.

In the end, though, none of them panned out sufficiently to merit a more serious “adjudicatory review” or private or public letters of admonition or other sanctions, according to the report.

Alas, the committee does not make the substance of those complaints public.

By comparison, in 2010, the ethics panel fielded 84 complaints that similarly resulted in no new sanctions.

Also noteworthy in the 2011 report: in addition to vetting the 77 complaints--and conducting routine matters like ethics training for senators and their staffs--the committee wrote about 800 ethics advisory letters and fielded more than 10,000 phone calls asking for ethics guidance.

And it noted that in 2011, the committee continued its investigation into former Sen. John Ensign, and although a special counsel found “substantial credible evidence” that the Nevada Republican had broken Senate rules, it lost jurisdiction over the matter when he resigned last year.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.


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