Ethics investigation of Homeland Security puzzling

The House ethics committee reportedly is investigating the House Homeland Security Committee, chaired by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).

According to published reports, the ethics committee is concerned about the propriety of the committee’s operations, and whether its members’ interactions with companies compromised its work.

“There is no substance to the story,” said Thompson in an interview from Washington. “I haven’t been contacted about an investigation and to my knowledge, no one from the committee has been contacted. I don’t know where the story is coming from.”

In March, the House Homeland Security Committee warned Visa, MasterCard and credit card companies that Congress might impose tighter security standards to protect customers from identity theft. That would cost companies millions.

It’s been alleged that former Thompson staffers pressured the companies into making political donations to the chairman. Within a few weeks of the hearing, according to The Washington Post, Thompson collected $15,000 in donations from the credit card industry and its Washington-based lobbyists.