Politics

Ethics Committee Finds Rush, Gutiérrez in Violation

Free office space and misuse of funds at issue

Illinois Rep. Bobby L. Rush is alleged to have accepted free office space in Chicago over the course of two decades, a House Ethics inquiry found. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Ethics Committee released two separate findings Thursday involving Illinois Democrats implicated in separate infractions.

The panel found that Rep. Bobby L. Rush has improperly accepted free office space in a Chicago shopping center over the course of two decades, while Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez used his member’s representational allowance — his congressional office’s set budget — to pay former chief of staff, Doug Scofield, through his communications firm.

Though the committee found Gutiérrz’s actions unintentional, it ordered him to pay back $9,700 to the Treasury.

Rush’s violation was a different story.

“Following its investigation, the Committee concluded that the rent-free office space was a gift to Representative Rush, which he accepted in violation of House rules and federal law,” the Ethics report reads.

“The Committee unanimously found that Representative Rush must repay the value of the impermissible gift, amend his Financial Disclosure statements to reflect the gift, and either vacate the office space or commence paying for the space within six weeks of the publication of this Report,” it continued.

Rush has occupied the space since 1989, according to the Ethics report, but would only have to pay back rent for the years following before his election to Congress in 1992. He easily won the Democratic nomination for a 14th term Tuesday night, but has been dealing with negative headlines over a separate controversy. 

Last week, a Cook County Circuit Court judge found him liable for more than $1 million on a delinquent loan he and others took out on a now-defunct church in Chicago. Judge Alexander White ordered $2,100 per month of Rush’s $174,000 annual congressional salary be garnished to repay the loan. 

Rush is the only politician to have beaten President Barack Obama in an election. As a state senator, Obama challenged Rush in a 2000 Democratic primary for  his 1st District seat, but the congressman won easily, 61 percent to 30 percent. 

Read the committee’s findings: Rush, Gutiérrez

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