For Immediate Release: For More Information Contact:

Monday, April 22, 1996 Gary Ruskin (202) 296-2787

Nader Files Ethics Complaint Against Speaker Gingrich, Criticizes Ethics Committee

Ralph Nader and the Congressional Accountability Project filed an ethics complaint with the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct ("Ethics Committee") against House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) for possible violations of federal law and House Rules. The complaint concerns the activities of telecommunications entrepreneur Donald Jones within the Speaker's offices. The complaint was officially transmitted to the Ethics Committee by Rep. George Miller (D-CA).

Donald Jones is a major contributor to the Republican party and to GOPAC. Speaker Gingrich allowed Jones to work in the Speaker's office, with an official Congressional ID, on a variety of projects, including, apparently, telecommunications issues.

"Speaker Gingrich was wrong to allow a big campaign contributor to operate out of his offices," Nader said. "It's like selling a staff position to the highest bidder."

The ethics complaint also strongly criticizes the Ethics Committee's "investigation" into the Congressional Accountability Project's November 15, 1995 ethics complaint against Speaker Newt Gingrich, which was officially transmitted to the Ethics Committee by Rep. George Miller. Several new documents, as well as recent statements by the Speaker, seriously undermine the credibility of that "investigation".

"The incomplete and failed 'investigation' into Gingrich's conduct is a stain on the House Ethics Committee, and its two leaders, Representatives Nancy Johnson and Jim McDermott," said Gary Ruskin, Director of the Congressional Accountability Project. "Johnson, McDermott, and the rest of the Committee have a lot of explaining to do regarding their failure to uncover key details and interview witnesses in this case."

In its "investigation" of the Donald Jones matter, the Ethics Committee failed to interview Tim Brown or Jeff Coleman, whose attorney, Paul Davis, says his clients can provide documentation of Donald Jones's activities within the Speaker's office. A March 14, 1996 memorandum from Davis to Ethics Committee Chairwoman Nancy Johnson stated:

My clients are prepared to provide information concerning the business activities of Mr. Jones during the period that he was operating out of the office of Speaker Gingrich. In effect, they are prepared to provide specific substantiation for claims included in the attached Jones memo. [The attached memo was a June 30, 1995 memorandum by Donald Jones titled "Six Months of Newt's '95 revolution".]

The complaint asks the Ethics Committee to investigate whether Speaker Gingrich:

The Ethics Committee has repeatedly scolded Speaker Gingrich for violations of House Rules or other blameworthy conduct, but has never applied any sanction to the Speaker. The complaint argues that this is a bad precedent for the Congress and the Ethics Committee.

"Nancy Johnson is the champion of permissiveness for rule-breaking members of Congress. The Ethics Committee has gone soft," Ruskin said

The Congressional Accountability Project and Rep. Miller have sent two previous complaints to the Ethics Committee about Speaker Newt Gingrich. The Ethics Committee found that Speaker Gingrich had violated House Rules in both cases.

Copies of today's ethics complaint are available from the Congressional Accountability Project at (202) 296-2787.