Ethics Panel Investigates Stutzman Family Trip

Independent office says campaign funds used for personal purposes

Indiana Republican Rep. Marlin Stutzman is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for using campaign funds from his failed Senate bid during a family trip to California. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House Ethics Committee announced Tuesday it would continue to investigate Republican Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman’s use of campaign funds during a family trip to California last year.

The independent Office of Congressional Ethics launched a preliminary investigation into the five-day trip  in August 2015. Stutzman’s Senate campaign paid $2,000 in airfare for the Indiana Republican, his wife and two children.

The trip’s cost was a small portion of expenses that totaled $300,000 spent by congressman’s campaign fund since he arrived in Washington in 2010.

Stutzman paid back a portion of the expenses, including the airfare, but the OCE recommended the Ethics Committee look into other expenses.

The trip drew attention after The Associated Press found Stutzman’s campaign paid for airfare, rental vans and hotel room stays during the trip. 

Stutzman’s wife posted photos of the trip on her Facebook page where she pegged it as a “family vacation.”

Candidates are not allowed to use campaign funds for personal purposes.

The three-term congressman maintains he did not violate federal election campaign laws because the trip included fundraising meetings and events with constituents and that he was only bringing his family along.

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The trip also included personal trips to Universal Studios, the Ronald Reagan library and the Reagan Ranch in which campaign funds were used, according to the OCE report.

Stutzman lost the Indiana's Senate Republican primary in May and will leave Congress after this year.

That likely means the Ethics Committee will drop its investigation if it has not reached a conclusion before the start of the next Congress, because it does not have jurisdiction over members who no longer belong to the House.

Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter

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