The House Ethics Committee today confirmed that it is looking into unspecified ethics violations by Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), but the case may be related to charges that he used his office to enrich himself and family members.
In a statement released by Chairman Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and ranking member Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.), the committee said it had received the Reyes case from the independent Office of Congressional Ethics on Aug. 30. Once the OCE refers a matter for further review, the committee in most cases must release the ethics office’s findings after 45 days or issue a public statement that it is extending consideration of the matter for another 45-day period.
The committee will make its next statement on the case on or before Nov. 28.
“The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee,” the release read.
Though the statement did not detail the charges that Reyes might face, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington earlier this year included the Texas lawmaker in a voluminous report on Members using their House position for personal gain.
In the CREW report “Family Affair,” Reyes was singled out for using his re-election campaign to reimburse himself and his family members more than $400,000 over two election cycles. The $261,764 reimbursed to Reyes was more than any other House lawmaker, the report said.
Reyes spokesman Jose Borjon said in a statement: “Congressman Reyes has carried out his duties as the federal representative of El Paso with the highest level of ethics, strictly adhering to the rules governing the U.S. House of Representatives. He has full faith in the House Committee on Ethics, is fully cooperating with their review, and expects this referral to be disposed of quickly. To respect the Committee’s process, Congressman Reyes and his staff will have no further comment at this time.”
The CREW report became an issue during Reyes’ primary campaign when his opponent, former El Paso City Councilman Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, and the anti-incumbent super PAC Campaign for Primary Accountability both made it a talking point. The eight-term Congressman lost the primary to O’Rourke.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.