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Delaware House ethics rules remain unchanged despite criticism

Tom Byrne
Delaware Public Media

The Delaware House made no changes to its ethics rules Tuesday as a new session started.

That’s despite the behavior of some past and current members being criticized.

Open government advocates say lawmakers in both parties used their positions to potentially benefit themselves during the past year.

Critics argue that retired Democratic State Rep. Melanie George Smith is directly benefiting from sustainability legislation she sponsored last year.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf said he would have had a problem if George Smith had known when she introduced the legislation in January she would form a business connected to it. He adds what she did was not illegal.

“It’s not illegal to create an LLC," he said. "Number two, I don’t know anybody’s yet benefited from that bill. I don’t know anybody, there’s been one person who’s signed up for it that I know of. But I haven’t seen anybody benefit of anything.”

He also said she worked on the legislation for a more than couple years and he doesn't believe this was her grand plan.

Republican State Rep. Mike Ramone has faced scrutiny this year over charges he helped get his campaign opponent fired from her nonprofit job - and questions about his vote on blockchain technology legislation potentially related to personal investments. He denies any wrongdoing.

House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf said there were no changes to the ethics rules because no one offered any.

“Bottom line is if we decide somebody wants to change something, we’ll put together a bill and have it heard in the Ethics Committee.”

Ramone is still in office, so a fellow member could file a complaint against him with the House Ethics Committee. But under current House rules, even the existence of a complaint is secret.

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