WASHINGTON, D.C. The top Democrat on the House ethics committee agreed Friday to leave the panel to defend his financial conduct and ease the political burden on a party that has made Republican corruption a major campaign theme.
Rep. Alan Mollohan, D-W.Va., decided on his own to step down at least temporarily, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said. His presence on the committee, while under an ethics cloud, would have undermined Democratic accusations that majority Republicans allow a "culture of corruption" in Congress.
Republicans immediately went on the attack despite the decision by Mollohan, who has denied any wrongdoing.
"Congressman Mollohan and the Democrats have repeatedly used the ethics committee to play politics while blocking the committee from functioning," said House Majority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Mollohan will be replaced by Rep. Howard Berman of California, a former ranking Democrat on the House's only evenly divided panel of 10 members.