|Whitfield and wife Connie Harriman Whitfield in his office. (Washington Post, 2010)|
The House Ethics Committee reproved Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky's First District for failing to prohibit lobbying contacts between his staff and Connie Harriman Whitfield, a lobbyist for the Humane Society of the United States. The committee said the breach was unintentional, but Whitfield said the horse-show groups that filed the complaint got what they wanted.
"Whitfield's bill did not come up for a vote in the last Congress, despite support from a range of animal and veterinary groups and more than 300 co-sponsors in the House," reports Matthew Daly of The Associated Press. "Whitfield blamed that outcome on the ethics inquiry, which he said was initiated by groups including the Tennessee-based Performance Show Horse Association and the Tennessee Walking Horse National Celebration" in Shelbyville.
"The committee questioned Whitfield's claim that he didn't even know his wife was a registered lobbyist until October of 2013," Joseph Gerth reports for The Courier-Journal of Louisville. Two months later, Politico did a report on the matter.
Whitfield also led the effort to ban horse slaughter in the U.S. In a prepared statement, he said, "Championing the welfare of animals has been a passion that my wife and I have shared throughout our 25 years of marriage. My commitment to animal protection is the reason I became the target of an ethics complaint." He said the committee did not find that he has given his wife special access to his staff, a more serious charge, but "I made a mistake."