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Alan Grayson Attracts More Ethics Controversy

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

"Well, I've changed the House. Maybe I can change the Senate as well," Florida Democrat Alan Grayson said in response to the first question of a 15-minute interview with HuffPost Live , which he conducted from his desk in his congressional office.  

Aired on the day the congressman entered a competitive primary race for GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio's open Senate seat, the July 9 media hit is part of yet another ethics complaint against the liberal firebrand. From his hedge funds in the Cayman Islands — the subject of at least two ethics complaints — to his attempts to raise campaign money  with criticism of fellow Democrats, Grayson has become a magnet for controversy.  

Such claims are politically motivated, his campaign has countered. But Grayson has also sought to neutralize the alleged violations.  

Under pressure in September, Grayson removed his name from two hedge funds after his involvement sparked questions about conflicts of interest and alleged violations of federal law and House rules.  

"Changing the name happened just because it's easier to do that than to keep arguing about," Grayson campaign spokesman Kevin Franck said.  

Last week, Grayson told the Tampa Bay Times he had closed the two Cayman Island-based funds. The congressman, who is worth at least $26.8 million, according to Roll Call’s most recent Wealth of Congress report , blamed the rising cost of annual filing fees. But Grayson has maintained he did not make any income from the fund.  

Grayson told the Florida newspaper that management fees tied to the fund were going to an LLC. His campaign then shrugged off documents, uncovered Monday by the Tampa Bay Times , that show the congressman is the only officer listed in the LLC's corporate filings.  

Franck dismissed reports on the documents, including a private memo to investors, as the latest in "a string of nonsense."  

"He broke no laws. He violated no ethics rules," Franck told CQ Roll Call.  

Grayson's House office responded similarly to the conservative watchdogs of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. In an Oct. 8 letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics board, FACT accused the congressman of using official House resources for campaign purposes.  

The three-page letter points to a press release attacking Grayson's Senate primary opponent, Rep. Patrick Murphy, plus the July interview with HuffPost Live and a separate Sept. 25 interview conducted from his House office that all tread into campaign territory. Under institutional rules, only limited overlap is allowed.  

Franck characterized FACT as a "right-wing fringe group that attacks progressives" and called the complaints "substance-free."  

He emphasized that Grayson was using his personal laptop for the interview. Still, Grayson's congressional office has promised no more campaign interviews in his government office.  

Grayson fired off his own missive to the Office of Congressional Ethics last week, alleging House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., had violated the same rules.  

McCarthy "confessed to misusing political resources on national television," Franck said, referring to the Fox News interview that prompted Grayson to file an ethics complaint against the California Republican. The Oct. 7 complaint also targeted Select Committee on Benghazi Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.  

"The next day, [McCarthy] stepped out of the speaker's race," Franck said. "I'm sure that made a lot of conservatives in Washington who support the conservative witch hunt upset."  

Related: Alan Grayson Ethics Case Prompts Florida Fight In Senate Race, Alan Grayson Could Be Own Worst Enemy See photos, follies, HOH Hits and Misses and more at Roll Call's new video site. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.