Ethics Closes Per Diem Investigation

Posted January 3, 2011 at 9:46am

The House ethics committee has decided not to pursue allegations that six lawmakers misused official travel funds, the panel announced Friday.

In a statement posted on its website, the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct announced it will close its review into trips taken by Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Solomon Ortiz (D-Texas) and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) between 2008 and 2010.

“In light of the recommendations of the staff, the Committee will take no further action regarding these six matters,” Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.), the chairwoman and ranking member of the panel in the 111th Congress, wrote in the statement. Bonner is taking over as chairman of the committee this year.

The investigation was referred to the ethics panel by the Office of Congressional Ethics, the quasi-independent House agency tasked with reviewing potential rules violations and recommending formal investigations.

According to the 805-page report released by the ethics committee, the OCE reviewed whether each of the Members had improperly kept excess per diem funds issued to them for official Congressional travel, when the funds had not been used for meals or other approved expenses.

“Committee staff have concluded that the evidence presently before the Committee does not support a determination that any House Member or employee violated any law, regulation, rule or other applicable standard of conduct,” the report said.

The Wall Street Journal had reported early last year that Members routinely pocketed excess per diem on foreign trips.