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Ethics investigation of Roskam extended

WASHINGTON – The House Ethics Committee says it is extending an investigation of Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois.

The committee said it received a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative body, and decided to extend its investigation of Roskam, who represents parts of Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane and McHenry counties. The committee said it will announce its course of action on Roskam in September and that extending an investigation does not indicate that a violation has occurred.

Roskam’s office said in a statement the OCE investigation into him involved a trip he took to Taiwan.

Roskam spokeswoman Stephanie Kittredge said he informed the Ethics Committee about the trip and his planned activities on it before he left. Roskam took the unusual step of publicizing his OCE report on Friday because he said he had done nothing wrong.

“The record reflects that Rep. Roskam fully complied with all laws, rules and procedures related to privately sponsored travel,” Kittredge said. “The trip was vetted and approved by the House Ethics Committee, the body legally authorized to make determinations on congressional conduct.”

The committee also announced similar extensions of OCE investigations for three other members of Congress: Reps. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and John Tierney, D-Mass. The panel said it would announce further action on those cases, too, in September.

William McGinley, a lawyer for Bachmann, acknowledged the OCE investigation in March, saying it was tied to her presidential bid and that the tea party favorite was cooperating with the investigation. Bachmann has denied any wrongdoing but announced in May she would not seek re-election.

In a statement Friday, McGinley said the committee’s extension was routine and expressed confidence that Bachmann will be vindicated.

“Today’s statement by the House Ethics Committee emphasizes that its customary 45-day extension does not ‘indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee,’” McGinley said. “It does not speak to the merits of this matter, and any inference to the contrary is false.”

He added, “We are confident the committee will discover, upon proper review, that the highly politicized allegations made at the OCE level were baseless and without merit.”

The OCE is an independent House panel run by a board of directors who are outside Congress, although some of them are former lawmakers. The OCE’s investigative reports and recommendations for further investigation go to the member-run House Ethics Committee, the panel that decides whether rules were violated. The committee can then vote to continue investigations, launch its own formal investigations or dismiss cases outright.

OCE referred each of the investigations to Ethics Committee in June, recommending full investigations. The House committee was required to take action on the cases or release the full reports of the OCE by Sunday. Instead, it will continue to look into all of the cases for another 45 days.

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