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Ethics watchdog files complaint on Gohmert

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, filed an ethics complaint Thursday against Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) alleging he improperly used campaign funds to pay for a trip to England.

In its complaint, CREW asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to conduct an investigation into whether Gohmert should have charged his campaign more than $6,000 for a trip to England in November and December 2014.

{mosads}House rules prohibit lawmakers from using campaign funds for personal expenses. CREW highlighted expenses including a $5,451 charge for a hotel in London and a taxi ride in Cambridgeshire costing more than $200. 

Gohmert made a series of political speeches in London, Cambridge and Oxford during his trip. But CREW argues that the speeches shouldn’t be considered eligible campaign expenses because the audiences of British citizens can’t vote for him.

“Rep. Gohmert’s legendary tirades may put him in high demand for public speaking engagements, but that doesn’t give him license to bill a luxury London vacation to his campaign,” CREW interim Executive Director Anne Weismann said.  

Gohmert spoke to the Cambridge Union Society, Rothermere American Institute, the Federalist and Henry Jackson Societies, a high school and a joint group from both the House of Lords and House of Commons in England’s parliament.

On Thursday, Gohmert said he was “surprised” by the complaint, as he didn’t think using campaign funds to expense the trip would cause controversy. He noted members of Congress frequently travel to foreign countries.

“I’m surprised. I didn’t use any government funds,” Gohmert said after giving his weekly hour-long speech to an empty House chamber.

“So again, it was a political trip, and a lot of senators and representatives do that. Of course the president, when he was running, he liked to go over there,” Gohmert said.

Earlier, a Gohmert spokeswoman stressed that the Texas Republican billed the expenses to his campaign account to avoid using taxpayer funds.

“Though most of his talks were political in nature, some might have been arguably official, but he chose the safer route of making it a political trip, and so official funds were not used. House Ethics prohibits the use of official funds being used for events that are political in nature; therefore, I am not entirely sure what the fuss is about,” Kimberly Willingham said.

Timothy Cama contributed.

This story was updated at 3:30 p.m.

Tags Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Louie Gohmert

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