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A top House ethics official is being investigated for allegedly assaulting women

The head of the Office of Congressional Ethics has been named in a federal lawsuit.

Omar Ashmawy, staff director at the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

Omar Ashmawy, staff director and chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics, is the subject of a federal lawsuit for allegedly physically and verbally abusing women and using his position as a high-ranking congressional official to influence police investigating the matter.

According to Foreign Policy, the lawsuit revolves around an incident that took place in 2015 in Milford, Pennsylvania, where Ashmawy is alleged to have gotten into a brawl and then threatened others involved with criminal prosecution.

The Office of Congressional Ethics is a nonpartisan, independent body that focuses on investigating claims of wrongdoing by House representatives and makes recommendations to the House Ethics Committee. In 2015, the OCE ruled 6-0 to dismiss charges of sexual harassment made against embattled Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold. Just yesterday, the committee announced the members of a new subcommittee that will reexamine the charges against Farenthold.

As Congress faces increasing pressure to deal with its own moment of reckoning with sexual harassment, the OCE will play an important role. Will it be ready?