Subcommittee Of His Peers

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On the heels of Rep. Rick Renzi's (R-AZ) indictment on 35 counts of conspiracy, fraud, money-laundering and much else the House has formed an ethics subcommittee to conduct its own investigation of the Congressman's dealings.

Renzi is accused of using his position in Congress to orchestrate a land deal that made friends of his millions -- a portion of which they kicked back to him. The subcommittee will work to determine whether there was official misconduct. As the subject of this investigation, Renzi joins a small but hardly illustrious brotherhood:

Formal ethics inquiries that require an investigative subcommittee are rare in Congress. For instance, in recent years the Ethics Committee only has created investigative subcommittees to examine allegations against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas; Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash.; and to handle the Mark Foley matter.

But it is even more rare for Congress to establish an ethics subcommittee in the investigation of a sitting member before the judicial process has run its course. For instance, the Ethics panel has never moved against Rep. William Jefferson, D-La. Jefferson has been indicted on federal bribery charges and is awaiting trial in Alexandria, Va.