Ethics Panel Probes Democratic Rep. Gutierrez

Image: Ethics Panel Probes Democratic Rep. Gutierrez

Monday, 05 May 2014 10:20 PM

By Jason Devaney

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A Democratic member of the House is under investigation for allegedly improperly paying his former chief of staff.

The House Committee on Ethics is still looking at the case, the Wall Street Journal reports. It involves Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), "an independent, non-partisan entity charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct against members, officers, and staff of the United States House of Representatives," said Monday that there is "substantial reason to believe" that Gutierrez broke the rules.

The allegations revolve around how Gutierrez paid Doug Scofield for services to his congressional office. Scofield had his own consulting and lobbying firm and was tasked with providing "training" and other 'non-legislative' assistance to the confessional office," an OCE statement says. Scofield's firm was paid more than $590,000 from 2003 to 2013 for those services, and he was personally paid more than $345,000 from 2008 to 2013.

"If Rep. Gutierrez used funds from his Members' Representational Allowance (MRA) for an impermissible purpose — to retain an individual to provide services to his congressional office that more closely resembled those provided by an employee or consultant rather than a contractor — then he may have violated House rules and federal law," the OCE said.

The House Committee on Ethics is still examining the case and has yet to release its decision. Scofield and two of Gutierrez's former congressional staffers would not cooperate with the OCE's review of the case, according to the OCE's full report.

Gutierrez represents the 4th Congressional district in Illinois and was first voted into office in the 1992 election. He has never received less than 75 percent of the vote in the 10 congressional elections he's won.

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