House Ethics: ‘insufficient evidence’ Roskam trip was improper

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WASHINGTON —The House Ethics Committee closed its probe of Rep. Peter Roskam R-Ill. on Friday, finding “insufficient evidence” that a 2011 trip to Taiwan he took with his wife, paid for by the Chinese Culture University in Taipei, was improper.

The committee “will consider this matter closed,” a report on the $25,652 trip concluded. Last September, the House Ethics Committee announced that it was extending its review of the Roskam Taiwan trip —putting the panel in the awkward position of investigating a trip it earlier had approved.

The approval from the Ethics panel has been central to Roskam’s explanation for taking the free trip to a place he never before had visited. Roskam and his wife, Elizabeth traveled to Taiwan at a time their daughter Gracey, was teaching there; they did visit her at her school. The matter was referred to the committee by the independent and nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), which concluded earlier this year there was “substantial reason to believe” that Roskam accepted payment for the trip “from an impermissible source” —the Taiwan government, using the university as a stand-in.

While Roskam cooperated fully with the probe, the university and Taiwan’s de facto embassy in Washington — the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, known as TECRO — would comply with committee requests for information, the report said. Roskam’s communications director, Stephanie Kittredge, said in a statement, “The House Ethics Committee’s unanimous, bipartisan vote to close this case without finding any wrongdoing confirms what Rep. Roskam has said all along—that he and his staff have complied with all laws, rules, and procedures related to privately sponsored travel.

“Early in the process, Rep. Roskam voluntarily released all of the documents related to this review so that anyone could examine the matter themselves. Rep. Roskam appreciates the thorough and objective work by the Ethics Committee and staff in further considering, and closing, this matter. “Our office will continue to work with the Ethics Committee to ensure that our travel review procedures go above and beyond the specific requirements of the law and to ensure that those best practices can extend to all House offices in their officially connected travel,” she said.

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