The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ethics on Monday confirmed for the first time that it is looking into an ethics matter involving Democrat U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando.
The committee confirmed the inquiry after a 45-day confidential period expired since the committee formally took up the matter, Jan. 6. Essentially what the committee did was serve notice that it will need up to another 45 days before it can decide on the matter and announce any course of action.
That notice was from both the chairman, U.S. Rep. Charles W. Dent, a Pennsylvania Republican, and the ranking Democrat, U.S. Rep. Linda T. Sánchez of California.
Grayson was the subject of two ethics complaints filed with the Office of Congressional Ethics this past summer, involving his activities with hedge funds named after him. The OCE forwarded the matter to the ethics committee Jan. 6, Monday’s notice reveals.
He has denied any wrongdoing and characterized the complaints as political hits by his opposition.
Grayson is running for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat and has a high-profile Democratic primary opponent, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter.
In a statement issued Monday, Grayson’s office indicated it was aware of the notice, and called it “a very common occurrence with cases that are referred from the OCE.”
“Neither the OCE’s recommendation, nor this delay, is any indication of the congressman’s culpability in this matter,” the statement continued.
The fact that the complaints were filed (one by a Murphy supporter and one by a conservative group) did not mean they were going anywhere. Only with Monday’s announcement was the congressional veil first lifted, indicating the case is being taken seriously enough to warrant an inquiry by Grayson’s colleagues.
Murphy’s U.S. Senate campaign immediately pounced on the news, noting the referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics means that “Congress’s independent, nonpartisan ethics watchdog, found ‘substantial reason to believe’ that an ethics violation occurred.”
“Alan Grayson has demonstrated a pattern of unethical and reckless behavior, using his elected office to promote his offshore hedge fund. Mr. Grayson needs to come clean with congressional investigators — and owes his constituents an apology for failing to put them first,” Murphy stated in a news release issued by his campaign.
The rest of the statement from Grayson’s office replied with confidence that there still is nothing wrong.
“The congressman is confident that, should an investigation occur, he will be shown to have acted ethically and within the letter and spirit of all House ethics rules,” it stated. “It’s worth noting that the House Ethics Committee has declined to follow the recommendations of the Office of Congressional Ethics more than 97 percent of the time since the OCE was created in 2008.”