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House GOP Calls for Ethics Panel Probe of Republican

June 21, 1989|From Times Wire Services

WASHINGTON — House Republicans, beating the Democrats to the punch, called today for an Ethics Committee investigation of one of their own: Ohio Rep. Donald E. Lukens, convicted of having sex with a 16-year-old girl.

The House Republican Conference, the organization of all GOP House members, took the action in a closed-door meeting at the behest of its top leadership, according to a statement issued by Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.).

Lukens Appealing

Such a request virtually ensures that the ethics panel will open a formal investigation of Lukens, who was convicted May 30 in Ohio of contributing to the unruliness or delinquency of a minor. He is appealing.

Michel said the move "reflects our total commitment to standards of behavior for members of Congress which reflect honorably on the institution and the nation. House Republicans will not accept anything less."

Nevertheless, the move was seen as a preemptive strike by Republicans and an effort to keep Democrats on the defensive on the ethics issue, which the GOP has said will be its main emphasis this year. The Ethics Committee probably would have investigated Lukens anyway.

The Ohio jury found Lukens guilty of the misdemeanor charge based on its conclusion that he had sex with the girl at his Columbus apartment last November. Such a conviction does not automatically deny Lukens the right to serve in Congress or seek reelection.

In presenting the resolution asking for an investigation of Lukens, Michel said it is unprecedented for the conference to call for an ethics probe of one of its own members.

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