Two Democratic reps have been found guilty on separate charges filed against them. Bobby Rush and Luis Gutierrez were both found guilty of misappropriating money.
In Gutierrez’s case, he was paying a political consultant with taxpayer funds and Rush was found guilty of accepting free office space worth nearly $15,000. Both were ordered to repay the money they had mishandled. Amazingly, neither one suffered a heart attack when the unexpected verdict came down.
Gutierrez said that paying his political adviser from public money was merely an oversight. Yeah, I pay the boy who mows my lawn out of my company’s petty cash. That’s legal, right?
Fortunately, Gutierrez is retiring from Congress at the end of the year.
Gutierrez paid a former staffer, Doug Scofield, for a decade out of his official congressional account, although he was not working for Gutierrez. Scofield was instead doing consultant work for the Democratic congressman but was being paid with government money. Gutierrez now has to personally repay the Treasury Department $9,700 for improper payments to the former aide. The committee did find Gutierrez’s actions unintentional.
“The Ethics Committee concluded, as I did, that any misuse of funds was ‘inadvertent’ and done with the approval of Committee on House Administration and the Office of House Finance,” Gutierrez said in a statement. “I am glad this review is resolved and that the Ethics Committee exonerated me of any willful or intentional wrongdoing. After five years the Ethics Committee came to the same conclusion I reached in 2013 when this was first brought to my attention.”
Rush was found in violation for accepting the use of free office space in Chicago. The Committee ruled that Rush must personally repay the rental company over $14,600.
The announcement comes as it was reported that Rush would lose 15 percent of his salary due to repayment of the more than $1 million he owes for making a delinquent loan for a church he started in Chicago. Cook County Circuit Judge Alexander White ordered the garnishment of more than $2,100 a month from Rush’s annual $174,000 salary in early March.
It is very unusual for the ethics committee to ever convict a member of either party and the conviction of two Democrats on the same day is almost unheard of.
While you are at it ethics committee, there are a lot more Democrats in the House deserving of your attention.