The Office of Congressional Ethics

Established in March 2008 by House Resolution 895, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) is an independent panel that reviews and investigates allegations of ethical misconduct within the US House of Representatives.  The bi-partisan eight-member Board of Directors consists of four Democrats and four Republicans appointed by the Speaker of the House and the House Minority Leader.  At the end of its review process, OCE makes many of its reports (what OCE calls "referrals") and investigative materials available for public review creating a new repository for public records researchers. OCE Quarterly Reports and Referrals released since its creation last year are available for download through the OCE website:

  • Referrals are reports summarizing the alleged violation of the House member in question, the procedural history and methodology of the OCE's ensuing investigation and the relevant findings used by the Board in determining its recommendation to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to proceed with or dismiss the inquiry. The OCE compiles a variety of resources as evidence. In a referral released this week, for example, OCE included interviews with involved parties, business inspection records, correspondence, financial disclosures and tax returns as exhibits.
  • Quarterly Reports detail the OCE's activities for the given quarter, including how many people have contacted the OCE for information or with allegations of misconduct, the Board's actions relating to investigations and released reports.

To learn more about how the OCE operates, visit its process page here.