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Ethics Inquiry Leaves Graves With a $35,000 Legal Tab

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) racked up more than $35,000 in legal bills in the final quarter of 2009, the result of an ethics inquiry that was ultimately dropped, according to his most recent campaign finance report.The Missouri lawmaker reported a new $29,700 debt to the Kansas City, Mo.,-based law firm Lathrop & Gage in his year-end report to the Federal Election Commission.A Graves spokesman confirmed that the debt, along with a November payment of more than $5,600 to Washington, D.C.-based Berke & Associates, was the result of an Office of Congressional Ethics review that was later dismissed by the House ethics committee.The inquiry had focused on Graves’ involvement in inviting a witness with business ties to his spouse to testify at a Small Business Committee hearing. The ethics committee found Graves did not violate House rules.Graves’s re-election committee, which also employ Lathrop & Gage for clerical services, paid the firm about $21,000 in the 2007-08 cycle. The campaign paid the firm $15,000 in 2009, in addition to the $29,700 legal debt and another $3,000 debt.

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