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Schmidt Has Yet to Disclose, Repay Legal Fees

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Rep. Jean Schmidt still hasn’t repaid about $500,000 in legal fees four months after the House Ethics Committee concluded they were an impermissible gift.

At the beginning of September, Schmidt filed the paperwork to open a legal expense trust. A report detailing the trust’s transactions during the third quarter of the year showed that it had not received any contributions as of the end of September. In October, the treasurer of Schmidt’s re-election campaign asked the Federal Election Commission for guidance on whether it could use campaign contributions to pay for the amicus brief effort that cannot be covered by Schmidt’s legal defense fund, but the request was later withdrawn. Schmidt has yet to file amended reports of her personal finances for 2009 and 2010 that reflect the legal fees.

A Schmidt spokesman said the request for an FEC advisory opinion could be re-submitted as the Congresswoman sorts out how she will reimburse the attorneys for their services.

“The Congresswoman has always intended to pay the bills, and she has begun the process of putting in place a mechanism to do so. She wants matters resolved as soon as possible,” Schmidt Communications Director Barrett J. Brunsman said. “It is a deliberate and painstaking process. The House Ethics Committee has noted that she has worked in good faith with its members. It was on the advice of the Ethics Committee that we looked into setting up a legal expense trust. We want to get an accurate accounting of all legal bills and expenses, that effort is ongoing. The financial disclosure reports will be amended as soon as all of the information has been compiled and checked for accuracy.”

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