Skip to comments.Ethics Committee OKs lobby firm payout to appropriations aide
Posted on 09/21/2006 1:17:46 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
The House ethics committee has approved a $2 million payout from a lobbying firm to a top Appropriations Committee staffer. The lobbying firm's ties to Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., are under federal investigation.
Jeff Shockey got $1.96 million in severance payments when he left Washington-based Copeland, Lowery, Jacquez, Denton, & White early last year to become deputy staff director of the Appropriations Committee.
The payments have been criticized by government watchdog groups because Copeland, Lowery, which specializes in helping clients that want federal funding for projects, frequently lobbies the Appropriations Committee.
"It appears that the terms of your buyout agreement are consistent with applicable laws and House rules, and we have determined to conclude our review without taking further action in this matter," said a Sept. 15 letter by Reps. Doc Hastings of Washington and Howard Berman of California, the Republican chairman and top Democrat on the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.
"However, going forward, to avoid any appearance that your buyout payment may influence your official duties, we strongly urge you against taking any official action in any matter that may affect the interests of Copeland, Lowery, its successors, or any of its clients."
The letter was released Thursday by Shockey advisers who reiterated during a conference call that Shockey has been recusing himself from dealing with any Copeland, Lowery clients.
"I would liken this suggestion to telling a triathlete they need to get more exercise," said spokesman Trent Duffy.
Copeland, Lowery, which has split into two divisions amid media scrutiny, employs one of Lewis' close friends, former California Republican Rep. Bill Lowery. Ties between Lewis and the firm are under investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles with prosecutors focusing on "earmarking," where lawmakers insert spending for specific projects into legislation.
Prosecutors have subpoenaed Copeland, Lowery clients in Lewis' inland Southern California district seeking information on why they hired the firm and communications with the firm and Lewis. Copeland, Lowery clients have received valuable earmarks from Lewis' committee, and the firm and its clients have been generous donors to Lewis and his campaign committees.
Shockey's attorney, William Farah, said Shockey has not been contacted by prosecutors in the investigation.
Shockey's wife, Alex Shockey, still works for Copeland, Lowery as a subcontractor.
Congre$$ and ethics .. a real strange brew.
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