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Aderholt Expects Ethics Referral Will Be Dismissed

Alabama Republican Rep. Rob Aderholt expects the House ethics committee will dismiss a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate his use of overseas travel funds, the lawmaker’s spokesman told the Huntsville Times on Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the ethics office, which reviews potential rules violations and recommends investigations to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, investigated Aderholt and four other Members over whether they improperly used daily cash stipends on overseas travel.

The other Members identified by the Journal include Reps. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) and Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas). It is not clear whether the OCE recommended further review in all five cases.

The stipends are for meals, cabs and other travel expenses, but lawmakers told the Journal in a March article that they have kept or spent excess funds on gifts. There is no system for Members to return extra money.

In a statement issued Monday, Aderholt spokesman D.J. Jordan told the Huntsville Times the matter should be dismissed, saying the House lacked clear rules on the use per diems at the time Aderholt traveled.

“During the time of Rep. Aderholt’s official human rights conference trip in 2008, there were no clear procedures or rules for per diem reimbursement and that’s why Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [D-Calif.] created new Congressional travel rules regarding per diem reimbursement in May of this year,” Jordan told the newspaper. “During and after overseas trips, Congressman Aderholt was not asked for receipts or excess travel money. This investigation is a result of a New York newspaper report, and it is more of an examination of murky travel procedures, rather than of the Congressmen involved.”

“We are perplexed as to why the Office of Congressional Ethics would devote resources to an inquiry like this, but we are fully complying and the Congressman looks forward to this matter being fully dismissed,” he added.

Wilson spokeswoman Pepper Pennington said the South Carolina lawmaker also expects the matter to be dismissed.

“As a member of the House Armed Services Committee visiting troops in Afghanistan, Wilson was provided $13 a day for travel expenses,” Pennington said in a statement. “Wilson purchased six small tokens of his appreciation — under $2 each — for Afghanistan veterans and their families. Given this nominal $13 per day per diem, it is highly unlikely that Wilson had any per diem travel expenses left to even spend on the souvenir cups priced under $2 for veteran constituents.”

“We are clearly expecting a swift dismissal over these tokens of appreciation for veterans priced under $2,” she added.

Paul Singer contributed to this report.