Ethics Panel Clears Shuster of Spying Charge

Posted July 14, 2004 at 6:56pm

The House ethics committee absolved Rep. Bill Shuster of allegations that he paid a former Congressional aide to spy on a GOP primary opponent, the Pennsylvania Republican lawmaker said in a statement Wednesday.

But the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct chided Shuster for not being careful enough in documenting his payroll records.

The panel said that “much of the public controversy that has arisen on this matter could have been avoided had you followed the committee’s longstanding guidance of requiring staff members who do campaign work to maintain detailed time records.”

The former part-time staffer, Joshua Juda of Altoona, Pa., worked in Shuster’s district office. Juda said last year that he was directed by Shuster and the lawmaker’s top aide to monitor the home and daily activity of Michael DelGrosso, who narrowly lost to Shuster in a primary earlier this year.

But the committee found that Juda did not perform campaign work on official time, and as a result, Shuster’s office didn’t violate rules and laws barring taxpayer money being spent on political activity.

The information from the ethics committee that was released by Shuster did not address the question of whether the Congressman or others in his office had ordered Juda to spy on DelGrosso. Shuster has steadfastly maintained that he gave no such instructions.

“I regret that there was any perception of impropriety in my office,” Shuster said. “That is why I asked for this review by the Ethics Committee. Had a few simple measures been in place, this incident may have been avoided.”

Shuster said new procedures for each employee are now in place.

“I have certainly learned a valuable lesson and am implementing a number of office practices which will provide safeguards against a claim that politics is being practiced within my congressional office in the future.”

The ethics committee declined to comment on the case.