The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) determined there is "substantial reason to believe" Rep. Tom PetriThomas (Tom) Evert PetriKeep our elections free and fair Break the cycle of partisanship with infant, child health care programs Combine healthcare and tax reform to bring out the best in both MORE (R-Wis.) violated House rules by "improperly" using his office to benefit two companies in which he owns hundreds of thousands of dollars in stock. 

The independent panel recommended the House Ethics Committee investigate further in a 37-page report that was made public Tuesday. 


The Ethics Committee, however, again Tuesday decided against forming an investigative subcommittee at this time. That decision means that in all likelihood the committee will avoid acting on the allegations before the congressman retires at the end of the year.

The House committee first announced its review in August, but only made the OCE report public for the first time on Tuesday. 

Petri, a 30-year-plus veteran of Congress, has acknowledged that he advocated for the companies while he owned their stock but says everything took place above board.

He blasted the OCE report as "untrue, biased and incomplete.” 

“There is no rule in the House of Representatives that bans Members of Congress from owning stock in employers they choose to support," he said in a statement.

"Some wish that Members not be allowed to own stock or that they be required to place all their investments in a blind trust,” he continued. “I have no problem with either proposal. But those are not and were not the rules of the House."

The OCE cited the House Ethics Manual which says action that affects a congressman's financial interest "requires added circumspection" and should be brought before the Ethics Committee. Such action, the manual reads, could trigger rules "that prohibit the use of one's official position for personal gain."

Petri initially called for an Ethics Committee review in February after news reports detailed his investments and advocacy. He said he was distressed by the "innuendo" in the reporting.

“I am deeply disappointed that the Ethics Committee has not yet resolved this case once and for all," he said Tuesday.

Petri has since decided against running for reelection and will step down at the end of the year, which will likely cut the review short. 

The OCE highlights his alleged "improper" advocacy and investment in two companies: Manitowoc and Oshkosh Corp., a defense contractor that specializes in military-style trucks and is based in his district. The OCE found no reason to believe he conducted improper action in benefit of a third company, Plum Creek. 

"Had I been interested in lining my pockets, as implied by some, I would have traded on the basis of my actions," Petri said. "In fact, I have not sold a single share of Oshkosh or Manitowoc stock in the past five years, or ever."

The OCE report highlights the congressman's support on behalf of a $3 billion contract won by Oshkosh in 2009 to produce armored trucks and trailers. The congressman spearheaded numerous letters in an attempt to protect and defend the contract, when critics questioned the company’s bid.

The OCE report pointed to other advocacy for the company, including staff-level calls to other House committees and a meeting in which an Oshkosh executive sat in with the congressman and Egyptian officials. Over the years, Petri held various amounts of the company’s stock, with a value of at least $500,000 in 2013. 

Though Petri's office regularly sought guidance from the Ethics Committee, the report found that "on several occasions" Petri did not clear his advocacy for Oshkosh with the committee and at one point appeared to not provide accurate information to the committee about a letter he sent to the Secretary of Defense.

The OCE also found that Petri's office in 2012 contacted the EPA on behalf of the company Manitowoc regarding an application for a hardship exemption it was seeking. The exemption, which is still under review, would save the company millions of dollars. His office did not seek guidance from the Ethics Committee in regard to Manitowoc. 

Petri has held various levels of stock in that company throughout the years, and reported owning at least $250,000 in stock as of 2013.