Monday, August 27, 2007

House Ethics Group Not Done With Davis Aide

It turns out that despite efforts from the 1st District Congressman David Davis, the House Ethics Committee is still reviewing what actions might be taken for Davis' PR Chief Timothy Hill who was caught removing factual details about contributors to Davis from the WikiPedia website.

Hill took the 'ethics training' classes earlier this year, and Rep. Davis said last week it was 'up to him' to decide what disciplinary actions Hill should get, which Davis said would be more ethics classes.

But the committee itself hasn't ruled on the case yet and likely won't until Congress re-convenes next month:

[Chief of Staff Brenda Otterson said Friday] the committee asked her to clarify her Thursday announcement noting that Davis decided Timothy Hill should be required to take ethics training classes in September for editing Davis’ and Matthew Hill’s Wikipedia entries by using a congressional office computer.

“My communications with the committee regarding the issue at hand have been proactive, but informal and with committee staff, not formally with the committee itself. The committee has not taken any formal, official position on this matter,” Otterson said in an e-mail. “I just want to make it clear that this was an informal inquiry by phone with staff on the committee to see how we should handle this matter, and I sought advice and counsel from them — no formal investigation by them — just our seriously looking into what the precedents were, and to see how we should or could address the issue.”

Davis, during a stop Friday to tour Kingsport’s Holston Business Development Center (HBDC), said he didn’t think the House committee will take further action.

“It’s not worth going through the process. I don’t think there will be another statement coming out of that committee. They left it up to me to decide,” Davis, R-1st District, said before addressing business and government leaders at the center.

The U.S. House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct is chaired by U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, D-Ohio, who represents a Cleveland area district. Congress is currently in recess and will not convene until September."

Rep. Davis continues to hold the position that the deletion of facts from WikiPedia is no big deal, since WikiPedia is not a reliable source of information:

This is not uncommon. (Wikipedia) has an edit button. I’m sorry Timothy actually took the word edit literally,” Davis said.

Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia project run by the Wikimedia Foundation (WF), encourages “appropriate participation” from politicians, WF Chairman Emeritus Jimmy Wales said in an e-mail.

“We hope that in the future, this participation will take the form of posting comments and requests to the discussion pages, rather than directly editing articles where people have a conflict of interest,” Wales stressed.

"Nobody pays any attention to Wikipedia,” Davis said. “My daughter is a college student and was told in her college classes ‘If you use Wikipedia, you will lose a letter grade.’”

The facts remain that Hill's work is likely a violation of ethics rules, despite protests to the contrary.

The full report is in the Kingsport Times-News.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:40 PM

    U.S. Rep. David Davis, Staff Doublespeaking About Press Secretary Vandalizing Wikipedia Political Bios (gleaned from the Saturday, August 25 edition of the Johnson City Press and the U.S. House Ethics web site:

    -U.S. Rep. Davis' Chief of Staff (COS) Brenda Otterson is now admitting that her "informal inquiry" regarding the Hill-Wikipedia blanking vandalism of political biographies with Timothy Hill utilizing government computers within Rep. Davis' congressional offices for political activity was not actually referred to the individual Members of Congress serving within the U.S. House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (UHCSOC; popularly known as the "U.S. House Ethics Committee"), but rather with UHCSOC staffer(s) yet unidentified by name and job title (meaning that these unknown staffer(s) could be anyone inclluding UHCSOC telephone clerks, student interns, secretaries, janitors, attorneys, office supervisors, etc.);

    -U.S. Rep. David Davis' COS Otterson could not have filled such a report with the individual Members of Congress via the UHCSOC as the Otterson telephone inquiry was made this August 2007 during the U.S. Congressional recess and the U.S. Congress will not convene until at least September;

    - U.S. Rep. Davis' COS Otterson is now disclosing that she did not file a written report originating from Rep. Davis' office pertaining to the Hill-Wikipedia vandalism that was ever submitted to the yet unidentified UHCSOC staffer(s), and presumably, Davis' Press Secretary Hill at the time of notifying Davis and his COS was not required to submit his own written statement of the events pertaining to the Hill-Wikipedia vandalism to be included in a written report for the UHCSOC;

    - U.S. Rep. Davis' COS Otterson made the inquiry with the yet unidentified UHCSOC by telephonic interview of unknown duration based on statements made Davis' press secretary Timothy Hill; [a related news article appearing within the August 11, 2007 edition of the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee) reveled that Hill was "...initially contacted about the attempts to revise the Davis and Rep. Hill biographies, Hill told the News Sentinel he was not personally responsible. But he called a reporter back later to say he had spoken off the cuff on his cell phone in the midst of a hectic event involving the congressman and “miscommunicated”];

    - U.S. Rep. David Davis' COS Otterson based her telephonic inquiry of the unnamed and unidentifiedd UHCSOC staffer "...on the information that Timothy gave me'' [and not mentioned by Otterman as if she also provided the UHCSOC staffer with a copy of the August 11, 2007 Knoxville News-Sentinel news article that originally broke the news of the Hill-Wikipedia vandalism scandal];

    - U.S. Rep. Davis' COS Otterman has not disclosed the length of her telephone inquiry with the yet unnamed and unidentified UHCSOC staffer;

    - U.S. Rep. Davis' COS Otterson sought " formal investigation by them" (UHCSOC), "looking into what the precedents were, and to see how we should or could address the issue;

    - U.S. Rep. Davis' press secretary Timothy Hill had once already completed the U.S. House ethics training earlier in 2007 when Davis began his freshman term representing the Tennessee 1st U.S. House District; howver, Davis is not offering an explanation as to how Hill's second time enrollment in the ethics course would address his press secreatry choosing to disregard the U.S. House Ethics Rules covered during the first ethics course.