Ethics office checks lobbying influence

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Acting on a tip, a congressional ethics office wants lobbyists to turn over fundraising information on eight House members, six of them on the Financial Services Committee that worked to overhaul the nation’s financial regulations.

The Office of Congressional Ethics is conducting a preliminary review of the fundraising between Dec. 2, 2009 and Dec. 11, the day the House passed its version of the legislation. The bill, a sweeping rewrite of regulations that govern Wall Street, now is before a House-Senate conference.

A letter to the lobbying firms, obtained by the Associated Press and other news organizations, seeks information on Republican Reps. John Campbell of California; Jeb Hensarling of Texas; Christopher Lee of New York; Frank D. Lucas of Oklahoma and Tom Price of Georgia. The Democrats are Joseph Crowley of New York, Earl Pomeroy of North Dakota and Melvin Watt of North Carolina.

All except Mr. Crowley and Mr. Pomeroy are on the Financial Services Committee.

Hensarling spokesman George Rasley said the Office of Congressional Ethics informed Mr. Hensarling that a source had claimed the congressman’s opposition to the regulatory legislation may have been influenced by political donations before the vote. Mr. Rasley said the ethics office did not identify the source. The ethics office gave similar information to other lawmakers, officials said.

Congressman Hensarling categorically denies any implication of influence and looks forward to clearing up this false charge,” Mr. Rasley said. Other lawmakers also denied wrongdoing.

The ethics office declined to comment Tuesday.

The letter to lobbyists sought information on individuals who attended fundraising events and made campaign contributions, along with any related written documents.

The information request, first reported in the Hill newspaper, requested information covering fundraising dating back to January 2009. But the offices of lawmakers told AP of the December time frame.

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