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Ruppersberger aide investigated, cleared over 2008 trip

TurkeyEthicsC.A. Dutch RuppersbergerU.S. House Committee on Ethics

The House Ethics Committee disclosed Friday it had investigated a trip to Turkey taken by an aide to Baltimore County Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger -- along with several others -- but concluded the staff member had acted in good faith and will take no further action.

The investigation, which was initiated by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, found that the Ruppersberger aide, Walter Gonzales, traveled to Turkey along with seven other congressional staff in 2008 on a trip paid for in part by the Turkish Coalition of America.

The group retains a federal lobbyist. House ethics rules prohibit staff members from accepting multi-day trips from groups that have hired lobbyists.

But both the OCE and the Ethics Committee concluded Gonzales did not know the Turkish Coalition of America had a lobbyist. The trip was coordinated through another group, the American-Turkish Council, which does not have a lobbyist.

“After careful consideration, the committee has unanimously voted to dismiss the matters … [and has] determined that no further action is required,” the committee said in a statement posted on its website Friday.

A Ruppersberger spokeswoman, Jaime Lennon, said that the Ethics Committee statement “speaks for itself.”

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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