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House Votes to Rebuke Murphy of Pa. for 4 Ethics Violations

December 18, 1987|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The House voted 324 to 68 today to reprimand Rep. Austin J. Murphy (D-Pa.) for four ethics violations, making him the first member to be disciplined in more than three years.

A reprimand was the least severe penalty of the options available to the House. Murphy could have faced censure, loss of seniority or even expulsion.

Before the vote, Murphy stood defiantly facing his colleagues in the House chamber and, gesturing frequently, presented a count-by-count rebuttal of the charges. He attacked the process by which the House ethics committee investigated him, determined his guilt and recommended a punishment.

"We have put members of this House in the untenable position of being investigator, of being prosecutor, of being grand juror and then reversing their roles and coming back to be a judge and a jury of the facts," Murphy said

The panel charged him with one count of placing a "no-show" employee on the payroll of an Education and Labor subcommittee and one count of diverting House resources such as photocopy equipment and long-distance telephone service to his former law firm. He was also accused in three counts of having an unidentified colleague vote for him on the House floor while he was out of town, but one count was dropped by the committee for insufficient evidence.

The House had not disciplined anyone since George Hansen, an Idaho Republican, was reprimanded in July, 1984, for filing false financial disclosure forms. He later went to prison.

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