WASHINGTON–The House Ethics Committee announced Friday it was probing Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) without detailing what was at issue. Roskam’s office disclosed that at issue was a trip he took with his wife to Taiwan in October, 2011–at a time his daughter was living in Taiwan.
At issue is whether the $25,652 costs for the trip were paid for by the Chinese Culture University–a permitted funder — or as the independent Office of Congressional Ethics asserts, the Roskam visit was “organized and conducted by the government of Taiwan, with little to no involvement by the University,” which would make it an impermissible funding source.
Roskam is the Chief Deputy Whip, a top member of the House GOP leadership team. Roskam’s office released documents associated with the investigation and said Roskam has done nothing wrong and got advance permission for the trip. Roskam has retained the law firm of Patton Boggs to represent him and has been paying the firm through his campaign fund.
“Based on the evidence OCE developed, it is appropriate for the ethics committee to investigate further to discover what Rep. Roskam knew about who was funding the trip,” said Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, based in Washington.
The eight-member House ethics panel –divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans–also announced investigations of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) and Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.).
In a brief statement, the committee said the members “have jointly decided to extend the matter regarding Representative Peter Roskam, which was transmitted to the Committee by the Office of Congressional Ethics on June 13, 2013.”
That office is an independent non-partisan investigative body which works out of public view.The office, established by the House of Representatives, is, “charged with receiving and reviewing allegations of misconduct concerning House Members and staff and, when appropriate, referring matters to the Committeeon Ethics.
The ethics panel statement added, “The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.
“The Committee will announce its course of action in this matter on or before Wednesday, September 11, 2013.”
Asked for details, House Ethics Committee Staff Director Dan Schwager said, “We don’t comment beyond the public statement.”