Nearly a month ago, the House Ethics Committee released its own report on a 2013 trip to Azerbaijan, which cleared nine lawmakers of violating any House rules. But there's another, potentially more damning report on the same subject—one that may never see the light of day.
On Wednesday, ten civic organizations and academics sent a letter to the House Ethics Committee'schairman and ranking member expressing displeasure that the panel didn't publicly disclose findings by the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent, non-partisan entity. The signatories—which includes Public Citizen, Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and more—allege this move is unusual and distressing. Meanwhile, the committee's report says in this case, the OCE shouldn't have sent over findings in the first place.
"This decision is especially concerning because the Committee itself played a decisive role in approving the Members' travel to Azerbaijan," the letter to the panel states. "It is unknown whether the OCE's findings shed any light of the role of the Committee in approving these trips."
Before the members accepted the trip, they sought guidance from the House Ethics Committee. The trip was approved. But after the May 2013 conference titled "U.S.-Azerbaijan: Vision for the Future," the true source of funding for the lawmakers' trip came into question.