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House probes $935k expenditure by Guiterrez

Published: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 5:09 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:36 a.m. CDT

The House Ethics Committee announced its ongoing review of Chicago Democrat Rep. Luis Gutierrez will continue.

On Dec. 4, 2013, the Office of Congressional Ethics transmitted a referral to the Committee on Ethics of the United States House of Representatives regarding Gutierrez. Earlier this year the committee announced it was looking into the congressman at the urging of the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).

According to the OCE, from 2003 to 2013, Gutierrez retained Doug Scofield, his former chief of staff, to provide certain services to his congressional office. Pursuant to the agreement, Mr. Scofield, who had opened his own consulting and lobbying firm, was to provide “training” and other “non-legislative” assistance to the congressional office.

Representative Gutierrez’s congressional office paid Scofield’s firm more than $935,000 since 2003 for these services.

Gutierrez may have violated House rules and federal law if he used funds from his Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA) for an impermissible purpose, like retaining an individual to provide services to his congressional office that more closely resembled those provided by an employee or consultant, rather than a contractor.

The Board of the OCE recommended that the Committee on Ethics further review the allegation, citing there is substantial reason to believe that Gutierrez used funds from his MRA to hire Scofield's firm.

The Committee on Ethics released a statement May 5 indicating that it would continue to gather information necessary to complete its review. The Committee published the OCE report and findings and announced the allegations would be further reviewed.

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