The Office of Congressional Ethics (“OCE”) review of me, described in the OCE Report and Findings released by the House Committee on Ethics, was tainted from the outset by the OCE’s procedural irregularities and denial of due process.
These procedural improprieties are compounded by the OCE’s rampant factual misrepresentations, evidentiary exaggerations, and plainly wrong legal conclusions in its report. For these reasons, I believe the only fair outcome in this matter would be the outright dismissal of the OCE’s report and referral. Nonetheless, as the Committee on Ethics continues to review this matter, I pledge continuing cooperation with the Committee.
I have detailed to the Committee on Ethics the numerous procedural improprieties, factual and evidentiary shortcomings, and mistaken legal conclusions tainting the OCE’s review, report and findings. I do wish to address publicly two sets of allegations.
First, regarding a family trip to Aruba — allegedly paid in large part by a company owned by a long-time family friend — I have, with the knowledge of the Committee on Ethics, reimbursed the company for what the I believe to be more than the value of any gift to myself. There was no improper connection between any gift and any official action by me. No taxpayer funds were used to pay for this trip. I will work with the Committee on Ethics to resolve any outstanding questions.
Second, I flatly reject the OCE’s allegations of evidence tampering and false statements. These allegations are prime examples — but far from the only examples — of the OCE reaching biased conclusions against me based on exaggerated “evidence” that does not even satisfy the OCE’s low burden of proof. In fact, the OCE acknowledges in its report that its allegation of so-called “tampering” is based on the testimony of witnesses who expressed concern about the accuracy of their recollection of events. “If that even happened,” one confused witness told the OCE. This kind of investigative lapse, and blatant bias, is routine in the OCE report.
It should be noted that I have been and will continue to be in cooperation with the committee. I look forward to working with the Committee on Ethics to resolve these matters.