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Ethics committee decides against investigating Jamaal Bowman for pulling fire alarm

Democratic congressman has already paid a fine and will not face a subcommittee investigation

Eric Garcia
Wednesday 22 November 2023 23:20 GMT
CCTV shows Jamaal Bowman pulling fire alarm in Capitol

A majority of members in the House Ethics Committee voted against investigating Rep Jamaal Bowman for an incident in late September where the New York Democratic congressman pulled a fire alarm during a vote.

The committee – which is made up of an equal member of Democrats and Republicans – released a statement on Wednesday. Typically when the committee votes to begin an investigation, it establishes an investigative subcommittee.

“A majority of the Members of the Committee did not agree to establish an ISC or report to the House regarding Representative Bowman’s conduct,” a press release said.

On 30 September, Mr Bowman pulled a fire alarm in one of the House office buildings as the chamber was about to begin voting on a stopgap spending bill. Republicans accused Mr Bowman of pulling the alarm to delay the vote on the bill, known as a continuing resolution. Some Republicans called for his expulsion or even his arrest.

“That’s a new low,” then-speaker Kevin McCarthy said after the vote. “We watched how people have been treated if they’ve done something wrong in this Capitol. It will be interesting to see how he is treated and what he was trying to obstruct.”

Jamaal Bowman said he was embarrassed at having triggered the alarm but insisted he did not do it on purpose (Getty Images)

But Mr Bowman said at the time that he did so because he tried to open a door that was locked since the vote occurred on a Saturday when the Capitol is usually closed.

“I am embarrassed to admit that I activated the fire alarm, mistakenly thinking it would open the door. I regret this and sincerely apologize for any confusion this caused,” he said. Mr Bowman said he did not try to obstruct the proceedings.

Mr Bowman later pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a fine for pulling the alarm.

“I am responsible for activating a fire alarm, I will be paying the fine issued, and look forward to these charges being ultimately dropped,” he said. “I think we all know that Republicans will attempt to use this to distract everyone from their mess, but I look forward to putting this behind me and to continue working hard to deliver for New Yorkers.”

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