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House Ethics Committee continuing review of Roskam trip

The U.S. House Ethics Committee has said it will take more time to look into whether one of the men who represents the Tri-Cities in Congress may have improperly accepted a trip to Taiwan.

The committee announced Wednesday it would take an additional 45 days to review the trip taken in October 2011 by U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Wheaton, and his wife.

Roskam represents Illinois’ 6th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. That district includes portions of St. Charles, Campton Hills and South Elgin.

Roskam currently serves as the chief deputy whip, making him the fourth-highest-ranking member of the House’s Republican majority.

In July, the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent nonpartisan group that investigates allegations of unethical behavior by members of Congress, asked the House Ethics Committee to review Roskam’s trip.

The OCE report first
was released by Roskam’s office.

Within the report, the OCE indicated it believes “there is substantial reason to believe that Representative Roskam accepted payment of travel expenses for an officially connected trip to Taiwan from an impermissible source, resulting in an impermissible gift.”

Legal authority in the matter rests with the House Ethics Committee.

The OCE report indicates that, while documents filed by Roskam indicated that the trip was sponsored by the Chinese Cultural University in Taiwan, the OCE believes the trip may have been organized by the government of Taiwan, “with little to no involvement by the university.”

The report indicates that the Taiwanese government attempted to first organize the trip under a federal law that permits a “cultural exchange.”

However, the law does not allow the foreign government to pay for lawmakers’ family members.

Since Roskam wished to take his wife, the $25,000 trip was organized under different auspices.

Roskam has maintained that he “fully complied with all laws, rules and procedures related to privately sponsored travel.”

Roskam spokeswoman Stephanie Kittredge reiterated Thursday that the Taiwan trip was approved by the House Ethics Committee, and that the law does not bar interaction between foreign governments and lawmakers when traveling.

“There is no information in that [OCE] report that the House Ethics Committee did not know when it approved the trip,” Kittredge said.

Kittredge said Roskam hopes to resolve the matter with the Ethics Committee within the next 45 days.

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