Rep. Gutiérrez facing review from ethics panel

Getty Images

The House Ethics Committee is looking into whether Rep. Luis Gutiérrez's (D-Ill.) violated House rules.

The Ethics Committee did not specify the matter on Thursday, but USA Today has reported Gutiérrez continued to employ his former chief of staff Doug Scofield — now an Illinois lobbyist — as a paid contractor since 2003. Scofield had been paid more than $500,000, the newspaper reported, to train staff and write press releases, among other things.

ADVERTISEMENT
Gutiérrez released a statement shortly after the committee made its announcement, saying the referral dealt with a "long-standing contract." The matter was referred to the committee by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE).

"The contract for services was reviewed and approved by the House of Representatives and submitted for renewal each Congress for 10 years," said Douglas Rivlin, communications director for Gutiérrez. "It was consistently and properly reported. Rep. Gutiérrez cancelled the contract last year."
 
“Rep. Gutiérrez cooperated fully with the OCE during its review and will continue to do so with the committee,” he continued.

After USA Today reported the story last year, Gutiérrez ended his contract with Scofield.

The congressman denied any wrongdoing at the time but said he did not want to leave any lingering questions. He said the contract had been reviewed multiple times by the Committee on House Administration and no one ever had a problem with it.

Gutiérrez has been gearing up for the Ethics review for months. USA Today reported he had spent nearly $30,000 since last summer on a lawyer who specializes in congressional investigations.

The committee said its review did not imply wrongdoing.  

“The committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee," Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and ranking member Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) said in a statement.

The committee said it will announce how it will proceed before May 5.

— This story was updated at 6:08 p.m.