Rep. Donald M. Fraser (D-Minn.) refunded $3,700 to the House recently after a gadfly critic of his investigation of U.S.-South Korean relations disclosed the congressman improperly was paying a staff member in advance.
"He's been trying to get me for eight months," Fraser said of Clyde Wallace, who, under the pen name of Walter Riley, has written several articles attacking Fraser and the House International Relations subcommittee investigation.
"I just caught him doing something illegal," Wallace responded.
Fraser said he was "wholly unaware" of the federal law that prohibits advance payments of government work. He acknowledged he paid Winifred Leonard of his Minneapolis staff her entire $7,400 annual salary in February and March.
Fraser said he did this so he could keep one of his 18 staff positions open for summer interns.
He contended he did not falsify payroll certifications in saying Leonard was "terminated" after the two months. "That was for payroll purposes only," he said.
But in checking the regulations after Wallace's article, Fraser said, he discovered the law about advance payment and refunded the aide's prepaid salary for the rest of the year. "She'll go on the regular payroll now," Fraser said.
Wallace, who is vague about the names and numbers of clients who subscribe to his column, said he started digging into Fraser's payroll records because members of the investigating subcommittee staff refused to answer his calls. They also told other reporters that he was working for the Unification Church of Korean evangelist Sun Myung Moon, which the subcommittee is investigating, he said. "I'm doing this on my own," Wallace said. "My wife is Korean, but I'm Catholic."