The House GOP had a fiery showdown over ethics with its member at the center of an ethics scandal

By Siva Vaidhyanathan Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., an ally of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and an architect of a conservative House majority, was hit with a humiliating defeat on a crucial subcommittee vote…

The House GOP had a fiery showdown over ethics with its member at the center of an ethics scandal

By Siva Vaidhyanathan

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., an ally of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and an architect of a conservative House majority, was hit with a humiliating defeat on a crucial subcommittee vote in a shocking development on Wednesday evening.

Meadows was charged with criminal fraud for not revealing that his son, Brian Meadows, who helped him carve out a role for himself in Washington, also worked as a lobbyist for a right-wing think tank in North Carolina.

The vote by the House Administration Committee members, most of whom came to the Capitol from inside the Beltway, came after a six-week process during which Meadows repeatedly attempted to explain the irregularities in his business relationship with his son.

The most difficult conundrum for Meadows was that his son, a former Army lieutenant colonel, informed him on the telephone that he had become a registered lobbyist with Woods and Nash, where he had earned $187,500, or about $7,000 per month, between February 2013 and December 2014.

After the law firm, which has ties to tea party and evangelical groups, contacted the law office of a partner of Meadows’ former boss, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Meadows checked his financial disclosure forms but did not report this until more than a year later.

He had told the committee earlier that he had authorized his son, a former military staff sergeant, to work at the firm and he understood that the law firm had registered him as a lobbyist. When he received a January 2015 letter from Woods and Nash notifying him of the firm’s decision to register his son as a lobbyist, he checked his disclosure form but did not claim that he was confused about who his son was actually working for.

For some of his colleagues, there was no denying it. Meadows had failed to bring the matter before the full committee, nor had he sought to question the law firm, let alone fine them for failing to disclose the conflict.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., a fellow member of the panel, said: “This decision this evening represents the highest disregard for the Federal Election Commission rules.”

Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., said: “It was astonishing to hear you say you didn’t know your son worked for Woods and Nash but you knew it would appear on your financial disclosure form.”

All 34 members on the panel voted to table Meadows’ request that his ethics case be taken up by the full committee.

An initial effort in March to try to resolve the matter failed. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., who was chairwoman at the time, agreed to get a transcript of the Waters case to Meadows for him to present as the last page of a 22-page letter.

The same committee then voted not to give Meadows’ request to bring the matter before the full committee, so the decision was vacated.

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, who accompanied Meadows to the committee hearing, said that Meadows had repeatedly told staff members that he would not appear before the full committee.

The process became more complicated after Meadows threatened to boycott the panel if they did not move on the case.

The Washington Post’s Tara Golshan contributed to this report.

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