Stefanik votes against ethics office changes

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro (Photo provided)

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-Willsboro, said she opposed a controversial amendment to place the independent Office of Congressional Ethics under congressional oversight.

“I believe that there need to be reforms to the ethics process, but they should be implemented on a bipartisan basis,” Stefanik said in a statement she posted on Facebook at about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The House Republican Conference voted Monday to place the office that investigates ethics violations by members of Congress under oversight of the House Ethics Committee, instead of operating as an independent agency, and to prohibit the office from investigating anonymous complaints.

The amendment was to be included in a rules package the House was to vote on Tuesday, but was removed at the last minute after President-elect Donald Trump criticized the action on Twitter.

Tom Flanagin, the congresswoman’s spokesman, referred The Post-Star to Stefanik’s Facebook post in response to an earlier request for comment.

Flanagin did not answer requests by the Post-Star and the Adirondack Daily Enterprise for specifically how Stefanik voted in the Republican Conference meeting on Monday.

“I strongly believe that members of Congress should serve as a model to the public for ethical and accountable behavior,” Stefanik said in the statement. “I oppose the ethics amendment to the House rules and believe it should be removed from the rules package.”

Supporters of the amendment said it would increase transparency.

Opponents said it would significantly weaken the office’s ability to conduct investigations.

(Editor’s note: Four daily newspapers in the North Country — the Enterprise, Post-Star of Glens Falls, Watertown Daily Times and Press-Republican of Plattsburgh — are sharing content to better cover New York’s 21st Congressional District.)