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Ethics committee to investigate Rep. Don Young

Posted: March 20, 2013 - 12:03am

WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee said Tuesday it is forming a special panel to investigate whether Alaska Rep. Don Young failed to report gifts on his annual disclosure forms, misused campaign funds and lied to federal officials. The committee also announced a separate special panel will examine whether New Jersey Rep. Rob Andrews broke House rules by using campaign funds for personal travel.

The allegations against Young, a Republican who has served in the House since 1973, focus on his expenses and travel costs for trips that were already the subject of an ethics investigation. The investigative subcommittee will look at whether he, or persons acting on his behalf, obtained or received improper gifts, misused official resources or campaign funds for personal use or failed to report gifts on required disclosure statements.

The committee said in a statement that it will investigate the allegations after a referral from the Department of Justice. The department had previously investigated allegations Young accepted gifts in exchange for political patronage.

Michael Anderson, a spokesman for Young, said Young would cooperate with the investigation.

“Congressman Young has cooperated with the committee and will continue to do so,” he said.

The allegations against Andrews involve whether the Democrat improperly used campaign funds for personal trips, including a wedding in Scotland and numerous trips to California with his daughter, who has a fledgling career as a singer and actress. The case was referred to the House Ethics Committee by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.

A report the OCE, released in August of last year, said Andrews’ trip to Edinburgh, Scotland -- including four business class tickets for himself and his family -- was either paid for or later reimbursed by Andrews’ campaign accounts.

Andrews said he expected the investigation to clear him.

“As I have previously stated, this continuing review by the House Ethics Committee will establish and confirm that I have always followed all the rules and met all the standards of the House,” Andrews said.

Andrews said he will “eagerly provide” all the information requested by the committee.

The panel investigating Andrews will be led by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. The panel investigating Young will be led by Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-Pa. The committee said in its statement announcing the panels that the investigative subcommittees will determine whether the lawmakers violated the House’s Code of Official Conduct.

The committee, in its statement, also makes clear that the establishment of the subcommittee does not indicate that any violation had occurred.

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