The House Ethics Committee has launched a full-fledged investigation into whether Rep. Ed Whitfield violated the chamber's rules by allegedly letting his wife use the power of her husband's office to aid her work as a lobbyist for the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
The Office of Congressional Ethics—an independent, nonpartisan entity—did an initial probe of the matter and formally referred it last June to the House Ethics Committee for further review. On Friday, the committee announced it was forming an investigative subcommittee to probe the Kentucky Republican's actions.
From 2011 to 2014, Connie Harriman-Whitfield allegedly lobbied Congress on bills, some of which Rep. Whitfield sponsored or cosponsored, related to her work with the Humane Society. She also allegedly contacted his staff on behalf of her lobbying efforts, and husband and wife reportedly had meetings together with other congressional offices in regard to the lobbied legislation, according to the Office of Congressional Ethics.
This could be problematic because if the House member let his wife lobby him and his staff and/or granted special favors to her as a lobbyist, he could have violated House rules and standards of conduct, the OCE asserted in its referral to the Ethics Committee.