More than five months ago, the bipartisan House Ethics Committee announced it was looking into whether Speaker Pelosi and other House leaders mishandled allegations that former Rep. Eric Massa, D-N.Y., sexually harassed some male members of his staff.
But with the House planning to adjourn this week until after the Nov. 2 midterm elections, there remains no public word of what the Ethics Committee has uncovered.
The possibility that those findings won't be released until after the elections prompted House Republican Conference Secretary John Carter of Texas to charge on Monday "the Massa matter is being swept under the rug."
"No party is perfect and will have members who cross the line on ethics every session," said Carter, a former judge. "It is how the leadership of the party deals with those violations that determine whether we have an ethical House, or a swamp."
Ethics Committee officials did not return telephone calls Monday to discuss any time frame for a release of findings in the Massa matter, which is not unusual because the committee's roster of congressional members and staff typically do not comment. The chairwoman of the committee, formally known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, is Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and the ranking member is Rep. Jo Bonner of Alabama.
There was no comment from Pelosi's office regarding the silence surrounding the Massa inquiry.
On April 21, the bipartisan Ethics Committee announced the creation of an investigative subpanel to, in part, determine "whether members, officers or employees of the House of Representatives may have failed to properly report or fully disclose allegations of such misconduct."
Massa resigned in March after allegations surfaced from former male staffers that they had been the targets of his groping and sexual propositions, even as he denied any wrongdoing on national TV, at one point saying the groping was part of a "tickle fight" with staffers. He gave different reasons for his departure, from saying he was forced out to claiming he was leaving because he didn't live up to his own standards.
The early explanations by Democratic leaders of how they came to initially learn of the accusations against Massa -- and how they handled them -- have at times seemed odd, or at least out-of-sync.
Majority Leader Hoyer's office said it was initially approached about the allegations against Massa in February, and that the Massa aide who reported that information was instructed to take it to the Ethics Committee, or that Hoyer would.
But Pelosi declared in March that she had been unaware of any allegations by the staffer against Massa -- which seemed odd given that her aides and Hoyer knew of them in early February.
"This is rumor city. Every single day there are rumors; I have a job to do and not to be the receiver of rumors," Pelosi initially told reporters.
Then came the revelations that Massa's former chief of staff had first told one of Pelosi's staffers in October about Massa's alleged dealings with male staffers.
Since the Ethics Committee inquiry has been launched, Pelosi, Hoyer and congressional aides already have been privately interviewed by the subcommittee and staff about what they came to know about Massa's behavior, and when.
Carter and other Republicans have sought to compare the case to the Ethics Committee's handling of the congressional page scandal involving former GOP Rep. Mark Foley of Florida in 2006, a matter that erupted shortly before that year's midterm elections.
The Ethics Committee acted more speedily in looking into those GOP leadership miscues in the Foley matter, they note.
In fact, the Ethics Committee took just nine weeks on the Foley matter, altogether, to conclude that Republican lawmakers and aides had failed to protect male pages from sexual advances by Foley, even though it found they did not break any rules and should not be punished.
The results of that Foley-related Ethics investigation were not announced until December of that year -- also after that year's midterm election -- but the inquiry hadn't been launched until Oct. 5 of that year.
"This House acted within days on the Mark Foley scandal, while under Speaker Pelosi the Massa incident is being swept under the rug," Carter said.
And the Massa-related investigation isn't the only ethics matter that Carter complains is being dragged out. He complained that Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., who faces 13 charges of violating House ethics rules, is likely to still have his case "hanging over his head on election day."
Neither Rangel nor Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. --another House Democrat facing charges of ethics rules violations -- are have yet to be given dates for hearings (the equivalent of ethics trials) in their cases.
"Mr. Rangel deserves an immediate trial now, before the November election," said Carter.