Legal Center Calls for Review of Amendment Offered by Rep. Roger Williams and Strengthening of Recusal Rules


Today, the Campaign Legal Center urged the House Ethics Committee and the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) to review the actions taken by Rep. Roger Williams (R-TX) in offering an amendment that would benefit his own business during House consideration of the transportation reauthorization legislation.  In a letter to Ethics Committee Chair Charles Dent (R-PA) and Ranking Member Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and OCE Co-Chairs David Skaggs and Judy Biggert, CLC urged a review of Rep. Williams’ conduct and further urged the Committee to recommend changes to clarify House rules concerning recusal and conflicts of interest by Members.

According to media reports, Rep. Williams, who owns an automobile dealership in Weatherford, Texas, offered an amendment exempting such dealerships from a provision requiring businesses renting automobiles to pull recalled vehicles from their fleets.  It is unclear from the media reports whether Rep. Williams cleared his actions with the Ethics Committee as outlined by the House Ethics Manual.

“Members creating carve-outs that directly benefit their own business interests severely undermines the public’s belief that Members of Congress are acting in the public interest,” said Meredith McGehee, Campaign Legal Center Policy Director.  “The specific actions of Rep. Williams must be reviewed for compliance with current rules, but even if he did clear his amendment with the Ethics Committee, his actions are a prime example of why the current rules are both too weak and in need of further clarification.”

The letter urged the Ethics Committee and OCE to recommend changes to clarify House rules for recusal by Members in a variety of circumstances.  The rules as currently written are weak and undermine public confidence in the actions taken by their elected Representatives.

To read the letter, click here.