WASHINGTON — House Republicans, seeking to defuse a political problem, took the unprecedented step Wednesday of triggering an investigation of one of their own: Rep. Donald E. (Buz) Lukens of Ohio.
The action on Lukens, who was convicted last month on charges involving sex with a 16-year-old girl, came on a show of hands in a closed-door meeting of the Republican Conference, the organization of all GOP House members.
Minority Leader Robert H. Michel (R-Ill.) said in a statement that the move was part of a Republican "total commitment to standards of behavior for members of Congress which reflect honorably on the institution and the nation."
However, House Speaker Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) said the Republicans seemed to be trying to score "a political point . . . apparently at the expense of one of their own members." He said any GOP attempt to make ethics a partisan issue was "absolute nonsense and the public knows it."