Most Read: Politics

Read In

Now Viewing: People from around the country looking at Post Politics section

See what's being read across the country ›

Social Surface: Politics

2chambers
Posted at 02:15 PM ET, 08/05/2011

House ethics panel still investigating Meeks; Schmidt must repay legal fees

The House Ethics Committee is still investigating whether Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) broke House rules by failing to disclose a 2007 loan, the panel said Friday.

The bipartisan committee, which is comprised of five Democratic and five Republican House members, also said it had found that Rep. Jean Schmidt did not knowingly violate the chamber’s rules by accepting free legal aid from a Turkish-American group but ruled that the Ohio Republican must disclose and repay the estimated $500,000 that she received in services from the group.

The Meeks and Schmidt decisions were among five announced in a series of documents released by the panel Friday.

The panel unanimously voted to accept a recommendation from the independent Office of Congressional Ethics that Meeks, who has been under investigation due to several omissions from his financial disclosure forms, did not receive an improper loan in 2010 from a Democratic fundraiser.

“According to the referral from OCE, although it was not a commercial loan, it was made on commercially reasonable terms,” the committee said in its statement. “The loan was supported by a recorded written agreement establishing an interest rate, collateral and repayment terms.”

But the ethics committee said that it is investigating whether the New York Democrat failed to disclose a 2007 loan from Queens businessman Ed Ahmad “in a timely manner.”

Schmidt, a four-term congresswoman from southern Ohio, had been facing questions about her receipt of legal services from the Turkish Coalition of America during litigation with her 2008 opponent, businessman David Krikorian (D).

The committee said Friday that it had found Schmidt “did not knowingly violate any provision of the Code of Official Conduct or any law, rule, regulation, or other standard of conduct with respect to the receipt of gifts,” but that the Ohio Republican must make public and repay the $500,000 she received in legal services from the group.

“Because Representative Schmidt did not know she was receiving a gift from TCA, the Committee has determined that no sanction is appropriate in this case,” the committee’s statement said. “However, the gift was impermissible, and Representative Schmidt must now disclose and repay the gift. Representative Schmidt has worked in good faith with the Committee since September 2009 to determine the appropriate ways to pay her lawyers.”

The committee also released a statement on Rep. Luiz Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who was arrested outside the White House on July 26 during an immigration protest. Gutierrez paid a $100 fine and was released after his arrest, according to the report.

“The Committee voted against empanelling an investigative subcommittee regarding this matter,” the report states. “The Committee considered the scope and nature of the conduct of Representative Gutierrez and determined that review by an investigative subcommittee is not required in this matter.”

The panel also released statements on two congressional staffers.

Gregory Hill, chief of staff to Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas), had been under investigation for receiving $32,000 for work he had done on McCaul’s 2010 reelection campaign. The amount was in excess of the $26,550 limit for outside earned income for House senior staffers, according to the report.

When Hill “became aware of the violation, he took appropriate and immediate steps to remedy it,” the committee said.

“Though his initial attempts to remedy the situation were unsuccessful, due to misinformation from the campaign’s financial agents, when he was made aware that the remedy had not been successful, he took further steps, and has now satisfactorily disgorged himself of the excess income. For these reasons, the Committee has determined that no sanctions are warranted.”

The committee also found that Michael Collins violated House rules by failing to properly report $54,000 he had received for work on Rep. John Lewis’s (D-Ga.) campaign 2005 through 2010.

“The Committee has therefore unanimously voted to issue a letter of reproval to Mr. Collins and require that he pay a $1,000 fine,” the committee said. “In addition, Mr. Collins must take certain steps to remedy the violations, including amending the relevant Financial Disclosure Statements and income tax returns and paying all unpaid taxes, penalties and interest.”

By  |  02:15 PM ET, 08/05/2011

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company