WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee said today it would continue its review of a $25,000-plus trip to Taiwan taken by Rep. Peter Roskam and his wife in 2011.
Roskam, 51, a Wheaton Republican who entered Congress in 2007, ranks No. 4 in his party’s House leadership.
The crux of the ethics review is who paid for an official, eight-day trip taken by Roskam and his wife, Elizabeth, at a time when their daughter, Gracey, was teaching in Taiwan.
The committee announced on July 26 that the independent Office of Congressional Ethics had referred a “matter” pertaining to Roskam to the committee on June 13.
Under the rules, the committee had 45 days from the July 26 announcement to announce a course of action. That deadline was today.
What is significant about today’s announcement is that the ethics committee, so far, has not dismissed the Roskam case. Rather, its release today said it was gathering additional information necessary to complete its review.
At the time Roskam’s name surfaced in July, his spokeswoman Stephanie Kittredge said the lawmaker "fully complied with all laws, rules and procedures" governing congressional trips that are sponsored by private sources.
Additionally, Roskam released several pages of the Office of Congressional Ethics in July.
Roskam and his lawyers maintained in documents that the Chinese Culture University in Taipei sponsored the couple’s trip, a mix of meetings with government officials and sightseeing.
But the Office of Congressional Ethics, whose own investigation resulted in the referral to the House Ethics Committee, contended that the Roskam trip may have constituted an "impermissible gift" because of the involvement of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States. TECRO is an arm of Taiwan’s government.
Under the rules governing official travel, foreign governments cannot pay for lawmaker trips except when the excursions are cultural exchanges authorized under the Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act, or MECEA. Under such trips, however, no travel money can flow to a family member of a lawmaker. Roskam’s trip was not a MECEA trip.
Roskam, who has regularly traveled overseas while in Congress, made the Taiwan trip with his wife Oct. 15-22, 2011, at a cost of $25,653.
The couple flew first-class, Meagan Holder, another Roskam spokeswoman, told the Tribune.
Gracey Roskam is now the assistant to the executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said Annie Clark, an NRCC spokeswoman. The committee tries to elect Republicans to the House.
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