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Ethics panel extends review of lawmaker’s Taiwan trip

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.)
(Charles Dharapak/AP)

The House Ethics Committee is extending its look at a $25,000 trip to Taiwan that Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) and his wife took back in 2011, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune.

Roskam insists he did nothing wrong. He submitted forms to the House saying that the Chinese Culture University in Taiwan sponsored the trip. And, as required, he had gotten prior approval from the ethics committee to go.

And he submitted a disclosure to the House about the schedule on his first-class trip, the Tribune said, which showed two days of meetings with government officials and four days of sightseeing. The couple also visited with their daughter, who happened to be an English teacher in Taiwan at the time. Roskam also spoke at a Taiwan-U.S.-Japan conference.

The Office of Congressional Ethics reviewed the matter and in a 135-page report said there was “substantial reason to believe” the government of Taiwan paid for the trip,” the Tribune reported, which would be an “impermissible gift, in violation of federal law and House rules. The OCE board voted 6 to 0 in May that Roskam “knew, or should have known, that the Taiwanese government,” not the university, “was organizing and conducting his trip to Taiwan.”

Foreign governments can’t pay for trips unless they are authorized as a cultural exchange —  but in that case, no travel money can go to spouses or other family members, the Tribune reported, citing the OCE report. After Roskam’s wife said she wanted to go, the university then sponsored the trip.

A Roskam spokeswoman said Monday “We weren’t trying to hide anything,” including the involvement of the de facto Taiwanese embassy here.

“There is no information in the OCE report that the House Ethics Committee didn’t know in advance of the trip,” she said.

Well, that could make things awkward. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

Looks like this may take a while to sort out.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.

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