Politics
Probe Finds 'Reason to Believe' Grayson Violated Ethics, Possibly Federal Law
Grayson on continuing ethics probe: ‘I didn’t do anything wrong’

UNITED STATES - JULY 15: Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., walks down the House steps after a vote on Wednesday, July 15, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A congressional review released Tuesday found there was “substantial reason to believe” allegations that Rep. Alan Grayson may have violated ethics rules, and possibly federal law, regarding his financial dealings while a member of Congress.

The continuing investigation into the Florida Democrat’s role managing hedge funds and other possible violations left the him not only unfazed but demanding a probe into the independent board charged with reviewing the ethical conduct of House members.

Even as the House Ethics Committee announced it would continue its investigation, Grayson boldly declared Tuesday that it would be “unprecedented” if the panel took any action in his case before the November election.

“The show is over,” Grayson said in a phone call to reporters from his home in Orlando.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” he repeatedly declared.

A former telecommunications executive and one of the wealthiest members of Congress, Grayson is a liberal firebrand whose outspokenness has irritated members of his own party. He's currently battling fellow Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy in a divisive Democratic primary in the race to succeed Republican Marco Rubio in the Senate.

The report by the Office of Congressional Ethics details multiple instances when there was "substantial reason to believe" allegations that Grayson acted inappropriately while serving in Congress. These include allegations that he:

- Improperly allowed the use of his name by four entities connected to his hedge fund and a Virginia consulting firm bearing his name, and received compensation through management fees from a management entity, Grayson Fund Management Company, LLC.

- Improperly omitted information related to his assets, unearned and earned income, reportable agreements and positions from his disclosure statements.

- Improperly held agreements with the federal government while serving as a member of three energy sector limited partnerships.

Investigators also reported finding evidence that Grayson improperly used a congressional staffer for unofficial business and gave interviews in his congressional office where he spoke about his Senate campaign.

Members may not receive compensation for affiliating or being employed by a firm “involving a fiduciary relationship” or allow their names to be used on by firms or corporations, according to House rules. Members are also prohibited from contracting with the federal government while serving in office.

The report also details omissions related to Grayson’s assets, unearned and earned income, reportable agreements and positions from his disclosure statements. It includes more than $1 million in income earned through his law firm that Grayson said was earned before he became a member of congress in 2009.

The report shows Grayson amended financial disclosure forms from 2009 and 2012 to reflect that income, filing both amendments on Dec. 2, shortly after he was interviewed by the board for its investigation.

Grayson defiantly denied all of the allegations. Just after the Ethics Committee said it would look into the matter further, Grayson’s campaign said it “welcomed” the panel’s decision not to form an investigative subcommittee saying that in the past, it was the only time the panel would issue formal sanctions.

Grayson said it would be “literally unprecedented” for the committee to act further on the complaint before the election, but did eventually admit it wouldn’t be “impossible.”

In a 36-page rebuttal, an attorney for Grayson asked the Ethics Committee to drop the report and alleged that confidentially breaches occurred during the investigation, noting reporters began to ask him about his meeting with the board the day after he met with them. Grayson said the only people who would have known about the meeting were him, his lawyer, and Office of Congressional Ethics staff.

He also noted that the complaint originated with a supporter of his Democratic primary opponent.

“The referral itself verges on the demented in all of its Captain Ahab attempts to spear the white whale by coming up with something – anything – with which to try to argue that some unethical conduct has occurred,” Grayson’s attorney, Brett G. Kappel wrote. “Not only were the rules never broken; they were never even bent.”

Murphy would not comment on the findings Tuesday. His campaign is planning a news conference Thursday to discuss the allegations against Grayson.

Grayson was unusually coy when asked if he knew if the Ethics Committee was pursuing his allegations that the independent panel had breached confidentiality agreements and leaked information to his opponent’s campaign while the investigation was underway.

“All I could do is invite you to stay tuned,” Grayson said.

Alex Roarty contributed to this story.

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

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Topics: ethics ETHC