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Danny Davis defends trip under U.S. ethics review; says lavish rug still rolled up in his house

U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., on Monday defended an overseas trip he took that is now under U.S. House ethics scrutiny, saying a lavish rug he obtained at the time is still rolled up in a storage room and “has no personal value” to him. 

Davis said his wife just found the rug in a storage room on Sunday never opened from its packaging.

“We complied with all the regulations, we complied with all the rules. Made all the disclosures,” Davis said. “Somebody, somewhere slipped up, I guess. But it wasn’t the members of Congress.”

Davis and his wife were among those who took a 2013 trip to Azerbaijan that was secretly funded by that country’s state-owned oil company. The Washington Post reported last week that lawmakers and their staffs received hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of gifts, including paid expenses, silk scarves and the rugs. The report called the probe one of the most extensive investigations undertaken by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

From the Post: The State Oil Company of the Azerbaijan Republic, known as SOCAR, allegedly funneled $750,000 through nonprofit corporations based in the United States to conceal the source of the funding for the conference in the former Soviet republic, according to the 70-page report by the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative arm of the House.

But Davis brushed aside congressional involvement, saying the ethics committee gave the green light to House reps before they took the trip.

“Ten members of Congress wouldn’t have taken a trip that was not approved by the ethics committee,” Davis told the Sun-Times on Monday. “Somebody probably made a mistake somewhere. Somebody found out something that they didn’t know.”

Davis said he wasn’t promised anything and he didn’t make any promises in exchange for the trip.

“I guess people got these rugs. Guess what? I’ve never taken it out of the package. It’s in my house. I asked my wife yesterday: “I said, where is that rug? She said: ‘I think it’s in the storage room.’”

“It has no value to us,” Davis said. “I don’t know what I’ll do with it. It takes up my time, one thing; talking about it, thinking about it. We’ll find some charitable way to present it to somebody. It has no personal value to me. If it did, I would have taken it out. I’ve never even looked at it, never even seen it.”