The New York Times reports that House Democrats "are seriously exploring" creating an independent ethics watchdog. "Senior party officials said Tuesday that Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the incoming speaker, had consulted with Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the minority leader, on forming a bipartisan group to examine outside enforcement. The goal would be to have the group report back in the spring."
Pelosi announced yesterday that Jefferson will remain on temporary suspension from his Ways and Means Committee seat until his legal issues are resolved, Roll Call says. As we've reported before, a federal judicial panel recently extended the deadline for briefs in Jefferson's case until mid-April, with oral arguments to come after that.
Rep. Artur Davis, an African-American who is considering a Senate bid in his home state of Alabama, has been awarded the vacant committee seat.
The AP notes, "While depriving Mr. Jefferson of his committee assignment, the Democrats have been mum about another member of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. James McDermott, who on Monday was admonished by the House ethics committee for violating ethics standards by giving reporters access to an illegally taped telephone call involving Republican leaders a decade ago."
The Senate Ethics Committee said incoming Majority Leader Harry Reid committed no wrongdoing "in accepting free ringside seats at boxing matches from the Nevada Athletic Commission."