Updated 5:43 p.m. | The House Ethics Committee voted Wednesday to establish an investigative subcommittee to look into allegations that Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., "received compensation for his involvement with a fiduciary business, a real estate investment firm known as Pittenger Land Investments, Inc." But, at the request of the Justice Department, the committee has recommended the subcommittee defer its investigation. "The Committee, following precedent, unanimously recommended to the Investigative Subcommittee that it defer action on its investigation at this time. No other public comment will be made on this matter except in accordance with Committee rules," an Ethics Committee release stated.
Members of the subcommittee are Ethics Chairman Charlie Dent, R-Pa., and ranking member Linda T. Sánchez, D-Calif., as well as Reps. John Katko, R-N.Y., and Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo.
Last week, Pittenger requested the Ethics Committee investigate the allegations amid reports the FBI and IRS were investigating whether he transferred money from the company to his campaign.
“My objective is to address these issues directly and confirm that I have always acted properly and in full respect for the law and House Ethics rules,” he said in a statement requesting the investigation.
In a statement to CQ Roll Call Thursday evening, Pittenger maintained his innocence, echoing his statement from last week when he requested the Ethics investigation.
"I have lived a life of integrity — personally, professionally, and in public service," Pittenger said. "Regrettably, some local media reports have not conveyed accurate information regarding my activities or commitment to serving my constituents with honor and integrity. Last week, I requested an investigation by the House Ethics Committee in order to address these issues directly. Today’s announcement is in response to my request."
Pittenger's campaign also sent out a release Thursday night that included written statement from the congressman's lawyer, Ken Bell, a former U.S. attorney.
"In response to questions from authorities and allegations reported in the media, we have reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documents and emails, and conducted many interviews," Bell wrote. "Nothing I have seen suggests criminal conduct by Congressman Pittenger or his former company."