Second-term Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.) faces a formal investigation into allegations that he continued to run his real-estate business as a lawmaker in violation of House rules, the House Ethics Committee said Thursday.

The announcement follows Pittenger’s request last week for such a probe.

Pittenger, 67, confirmed to the Charlotte Observer in August that his former company, Pittenger Land Investments, was under federal investigation and denied any wrongdoing. He sold the business to his wife after he was elected in 2012 in order to comply with House ethics rules that restrict members’ professional activities in order to avoid conflicts of interest.

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The Observer reported in October that Pittenger had remained active in his business, speaking to at least two investors about potential land deals. The paper has also reported on allegations that Pittenger may have illegally tapped company funds to finance his 2012 House campaign.

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Pittenger said he received the Ethics Committee’s blessing for the sale of his business to his wife, and has since abided by House rules governing outside business activities, though he has declined to release the letter granting that clearance. Last week, he asked the Ethics Committee to launch an investigation and said he was confident he would be cleared.

“I have lived a life of integrity – personally, professionally, and in public service,” Pittenger said in a statement Thursday. “Regrettably, some local media reports have not conveyed accurate information regarding my activities or commitment to serving my constituents with honor and integrity. Last week, I requested an investigation by the House Ethics Committee in order to address these issues directly. Today’s announcement is in response to my request.”

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It could be months, however, before the Ethics Committee investigation gets underway: The Justice Department asked the panel to defer any probe until its own investigation is complete. The Ethics Committee said in a statement that it will honor the request.

The Pittenger inquiry is the third formal investigation the House Ethics Committee has opened in the 114th Congress. Pending are investigations into Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.), who is under a wide-ranging federal corruption indictment, and Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), who is accused of using his office to improperly benefit the Humane Society of the United States, where his wife works.

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