Ethics committee clears Pingree's use of private jet

A letter signed by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) has clarified that Maine Rep. Chellie Pingree's (D) use of a private jet owned by her fiance is permitted under House rules.

Pingree came under fire from Republicans after a video surfaced showing her disembarking from a 2007 Dassault Falcon 2000EX jet owned by her fiance S. Donald Sussman, a hedge fund manager.

She asked for the opinion of the ethics committee after a Maine blog noted that she had criticized similar actions by lawmakers during her four-year tenure as head of centrist reform organization Common Cause.

The letter released by Lofgren and Bonner notes that family members are allowed to give gifts — like transportation — to members of Congress, and that a fiance counts as a family member.

It also said that House rules impose no limits on the value or frequency of such gifts.

Flight logs obtained by local media in Maine show that the jet frequently travels between the state and Washington, D.C. The records did not include passenger lists.

Pingree leads Republican challenger Dean Scontras by 24 points, with 17 percent of district voters undecided, according to a poll from mid-September.

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