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House Ethics Panel's Top Democrat Denies Charges

April 09, 2006|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The senior Democrat on the House Ethics Committee says there's no truth to allegations by a conservative group that he violated financial disclosure laws.

Rep. Alan B. Mollohan of West Virginia accused Republicans of orchestrating the complaint and of using it to call for him to leave the committee. He said he had no intention of stepping down from his post.

The National Legal and Policy Center said Friday that it had filed a complaint with federal prosecutors in February alleging that Mollohan consistently undervalued assets on congressional financial reports and also omitted assets.

Channing Phillips, principal assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, said Friday that he could not confirm receipt of the complaint or comment on any pending criminal investigation.

Rep. Thomas M. Reynolds of New York, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said the allegations should lead Mollohan to resign from the Ethics Committee.

Republicans have blamed Democrats for partisan battles that have kept the evenly divided Ethics Committee from opening any major investigations since the current Congress convened in January 2005.

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) had to decide whether Mollohan should step down -- but he indicated he thought she should. Pelosi said she would not ask Mollohan to step down.

Mollohan said: "No, I'm not going to resign because of this spurious attack. The attack is unethical on its face. I have not heard from any prosecutor."

The chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, Ken Boehm, said he would not release the complaint because some of it was not thoroughly verified. He said the center had verified that Mollohan repeatedly failed to disclose real estate and financial assets and loans.

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