Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) said yesterday that the House ethics committee has told him it will not open a formal investigation into his acceptance of a $447,500 loan from credit card giant MBNA Corp. in 1998, when the congressman was increasing his support for legislation backed by the company.
Moran would not release the letter he said he received from the committee, but in a four-paragraph statement he said the panel found no connection between the loan and his work. "I fully recognize the need to be more conscious of the appearance that my public office presents," Moran said. "I would like to consider this chapter in my life closed."
Separately, the Federal Election Commission announced yesterday that it would take no action against Moran based on an interest group's complaint that the MBNA loan amounted to an illegal campaign contribution. Citing its prosecutorial discretion, the FEC said it would close the case Feb. 13.
John Vargo, spokesman for the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, declined to comment on Moran's case, saying, "Committee rules prohibit any public comment on any disciplinary-related matter."
The Washington Post reported in July that Moran accepted the debt-consolidation mortgage loan from Wilmington, Del.-based MBNA on favorable terms that allowed him to borrow more money at a lower cost than was standard in the industry. Days after the loan was completed, Moran stepped up his support for bankruptcy reform legislation that company executives called their top congressional priority.
Yesterday, Moran said the committee had concluded that the loan terms were commercially reasonable.
"The circumstances surrounding this loan occurred during a very trying time for me and my family, a period from which I have since grown and learned," Moran said. "I will continue to represent the interests of my constituents in a manner that is fitting of the trust they have placed in me."
Moran previously said the loan's timing was a coincidence, that he was unaware that MBNA was a major backer of the legislation and that he did not speak with MBNA lobbyists. The bank said that the loan was a sound deal and that it gave Moran no special treatment.