Politics

July 27, 2013

House ethics committee extends investigation of Michele Bachmann

The committee similarly takes more time on investigations for three other members of Congress, including John Tierney, D-Mass.

By Henry C. Jackson / The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Allegations surrounding Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann and her brief presidential campaign are getting further examination from the House Ethics Committee.

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Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is the subject of an investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

The Associated Press

The panel said in a brief statement Friday it is extending until at least September a review of Bachmann's case, which was referred to it by the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent investigative body. The panel said it would announce any further action by Sept. 11.

The committee announced similar extensions of OCE investigations for three other members of Congress: Reps. Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., Pete Roskam, R-Ill., 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.

Because not all of the OCE reports were revealed Friday, it's not clear what specifically some of the investigations of the lawmakers entail.

In a statement, Tierney said he believed the OCE investigation involving him was related to his personal financial disclosure reports.

"I welcome the opportunity to finally put this issue to rest after many years of my opponents attacking me," Tierney said.

Ethicial questions surrounded Tierney's bruising 2012 re-election campaign against former State Sen. Richard Tisei.

Tierney's wife, Patrice Tierney, served one month in federal prison in 2011 after admitting she was "willfully blind" to the source of millions of dollars in income for her brothers, Robert and Daniel Eremian, who were running an illegal, offshore gambling operation.

Patrice Tierney managed a checking account for her brother Robert and helped him to prepare a false tax return, according to her plea agreement.

John Tierney has always denied any involvement in his wife's activities and was re-elected last year. He also has defended his wife, saying she was wronged by her brothers and believed the income in the account she managed was from legal businesses and services.

(Continued on page 2)

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