Rep. Roskam faces ethics probe

Chicago Tribune –

WASHINGTON — A trip to Taiwan that Rep. Peter Roskam took with his wife in 2011 has been referred to the House ethics committee at the urging of an outside panel that found he may have violated House rules and federal law in accepting the $25,000-plus excursion, according to ethics officials and the congressman’s office.

Roskam, 51, a Republican from Wheaton who entered Congress in 2007, is his party’s chief deputy whip in the House, a leadership role that includes vote counting and messaging.

The crux of the ethics matter is who paid for the eight-day, $25,653 trip taken by Roskam and his wife, Elizabeth, at a time when their daughter was teaching in Taiwan.

He and his lawyers maintain that the Chinese Culture University in Taipei sponsored the trip, a mix of meetings with government officials and sightseeing.

But the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, whose investigation resulted in a referral to the House ethics committee, contended that the Roskams’ trip may have constituted what is called an “impermissible gift” because of the involvement of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the United States. That office is an arm of Taiwan’s government.

In a statement Friday, Roskam spokeswoman Stephanie Kittredge said the lawmaker “fully complied with all laws, rules and procedures” governing congressional trips sponsored by private sources.

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