The House Ethics Committee signaled Friday it has begun a sweeping probe into misconduct of lawmakers and staff that resulted in taxpayer-funded settlements.
The 10-member bipartisan panel ordered the Office of Compliance to turn over "all records... related to any claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation or any other [prohibited] employment practice," by House lawmakers or congressional staff.
The probe is a response to allegations of sexual misconduct by lawmakers, both public and anonymous, and a pledge by House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to conduct a "comprehensive" review of taxpayer-funded payouts for workplace misdeeds.
The panel, which rarely comments on investigations, did not indicate whether it would use the information to further investigate or seek punishment of individuals on the list who could be found to have violated House ethics rules.
The Office of Compliance has authorized $17 million in payouts over 20 years to employees of the legislative branch for a variety of workplace settlements, including sexual harassment.
In the letter, the panel asserted it has the authority to investigate House members and therefore should be allowed access to the Office of Compliance files. So far, the office has refused to reveal the names of those involved in the settlements, citing privacy provisions in a 1995 law governing congressional workplace discrimination laws.