House Inspector General Suggests Complainants Make Complaint Someone Else’s Problem

Following up on this item noting two complaints were filed with offices of jurisdiction over potential misuses of congressional resources, the House Inspector General informed independent journalist Rob Schilling that it would be preferable if another office did the work.

As the complaint noted, however

Dear Inspector General Ptasienski,

We write pursuant to Res. 423, the House Administration Reform Resolution of 1992 amending the Rules of the House of Representatives. As noted by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) ( (emphases added):

The House IG is authorized to accept alleged violations of law or misconduct by House employees and to investigateacceptance of gratuities, mismanagement and waste of funds, conflicts of interest, abuse of authority, theft or abuse of government property, computer crimes, purchase card fraud, improper use of House resources, and violations related to administration of the House. Should the IG receive information outside of its authority, it is to refer the information to other House entities (e.g., the House Ethics Committee), or noncongressional entities (e.g., the Department of Veterans Affairs), as appropriate.

Further detail making plain this matter is indeed under the IG’s purview includes the following:

Pursuant to House Rule II, clause 6, the House IG has five main duties:

(1) provide audit, investigative, and advisory services to the House and joint entities in a manner consistent with government-wide standards;

(2) inform the officers or other officials who are the subject of an audit of the results of that audit and suggesting appropriate curative actions;

(5) report to the Committee on Ethics information involving possible violations by a Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House of any rule of the House or of any law applicable to the performance of official duties or the discharge of official responsibilities that may require referral to the appropriate Federal or State authorities under clause 3(a)(3) of rule XI.

On January 4, 2001, the rules package for the 107th Congress (2001-2002) provided the Committee on House Administration with policy direction and oversight over the Inspector General [H.Res. 5, §2(g)].

The Office of the Inspector General was created in the wake of scandals involving mismanagement of House resources. In the event that issues it investigates lead to the proper referral, by the IG, to another body of jurisdiction, the IG is to refer the matter there. Its IG is appointed jointly with leaders of both caucuses. However, that does not ensure the Office is interested in pursuing leadership, at least of one caucus according to this experience. In this matter, the IG instead referred these complainants to refer the matter elsewhere on their own, with no IG fingerprints, despite the prima facie case of violations 31 U.S. Code § 1342House Rules  and ethics requirements/prohibitions (House Rule XXIV and official House interpretations thereof.

Once again, it appears that the answer to the question, who will guard the guardian? is, well, someone else.

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