House ethics committee sanctions transportation chairman


Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The House ethics committee said today it has sanctioned Transportation Committee Chairman Bud Shuster, R-Pa., for “serious official misconduct” for accepting improper gifts and favoring a lobbyist but spared him further penalty.

The letter of disapproval was negotiated by Shuster and concludes a three-year investigation surrounding one of Congress’ most influential members. Shuster’s committee controls highway and transportation projects for the nation, giving him tremendous clout among all House members.

“By your actions you have brought discredit to the House of Representatives,” the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct wrote Shuster.

No action will be required by the House as a result of the negotiated settlement, the ethics committee said in announcing its unanimous decision.

Shuster called the committee findings and its critical language “overkill” and contended he “complied with the law and with his understanding of what was right.”

The Congressional Accountability Project, an organization founded by Ralph Nader, had filed the original allegations that there were conflicts of interest between Shuster and Ann M. Eppard, his former chief of staff who became a lobbyist representing transportation clients with business before Shuster’s committee.

The ethics committee found Shuster engaged in a “pattern and practice” of allowing Eppard to appear before him in his official capacity in the year after her resignation from his staff. This “created the appearance that his official decisions might have been improperly affected,” the committee found.

The committee also concluded that Shuster violated standards of conduct by:

_Accepting expenses from two sources related to a trip to Puerto Rico with his family in December 1995 and January 1996.

_Authorizing and/or accepting the scheduling and advisory services of Eppard on official matters for approximately 18 months after she resigned from his congressional office.

_Allowing employees in his congressional office to work for his campaign committee to the “apparent detriment” of the time they were required to spend on congressional business. The employees performed services for his campaign in the congressional office.

_Creating the appearance that between 1993 and 1998 certain expenditures of his campaign committee may not have been attributable to bona fide campaign or political purposes. The appearance was created by “the number and dollar amount” of expenditures for meals designated as “political meetings” and for transportation on chartered aircraft.

Shuster called the committee’s findings “overkill for the charge of causing misguided public perceptions – particularly when those subjective perceptions were contrary to the objective truth. The truth is that – under every statute Congress has adopted to regulate contacts between lobbyists and members – Representative Shuster’s interaction with Ann M. Eppard complied with the law and with his understanding of what was right.”

The response added that Shuster “made every effort to properly account for the expenses of his fact-finding trips” and used campaign funds “for proper purposes and protected the taxpayer from paying a penny for any expense that could just as properly be paid from campaign funds.”

The committee told Shuster in its letter that it was “disturbed not only by the content of your response but by its tone. It is one of blame-shifting and trivializing of misconduct to which you have admitted and which this committee does not and cannot characterize as “de minimis or technical. … You committed substantial violations.”

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A sign hangs at a Taco Bell on May 23, 2014, in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Declaring a mission to liberate "Taco Tuesday" for all, Taco Bell asked U.S. regulators Tuesday, May 16, 2023, to force Wyoming-based Taco John's to abandon its longstanding claim to the trademark. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Hepatitis A confirmed in Taco Bell worker in Everett, Lake Stevens

The health department sent out a public alert for diners at two Taco Bells on May 22 or 23.

VOLLI’s Director of Food & Beverage Kevin Aiello outside of the business on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Coming soon to Marysville: indoor pickleball, games, drinks

“We’re very confident this will be not just a hit, but a smash hit,” says co-owner Allan Jones, who is in the fun industry.

Detectives: Unresponsive baby was exposed to fentanyl at Everett hotel

An 11-month-old boy lost consciousness Tuesday afternoon. Later, the infant and a twin sibling both tested positive for fentanyl.

Cassie Franklin (left) and Nick Harper (right)
Report: No wrongdoing in Everett mayor’s romance with deputy mayor

An attorney hired by the city found no misuse of public funds. Texts between the two last year, however, were not saved on their personal phones.

Firearm discovered by TSA officers at Paine Field Thursday morning, May 11, 2023, during routine X-ray screening at the security checkpoint. (Transportation Security Administration)
3 guns caught by TSA at Paine Field this month — all loaded

Simple travel advice: Unpack before you pack to make sure there’s not a gun in your carry-on.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
To beat the rush this Memorial Day weekend, go early or late

AAA projects busy airports, ferries and roads over the holiday weekend this year, though still below pre-pandemic counts.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Troopers: DUI crash leaves 1 in critical condition in Maltby

A drunken driver, 34, was arrested after her pickup rear-ended another truck late Tuesday, injuring a Snohomish man, 28.

Housing Hope CEO Donna Moulton raises her hand in celebration of the groundbreaking of the Housing Hope Madrona Highlands on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$30M affordable housing project to start construction soon in Edmonds

Once built, dozens of families who are either homeless or in poverty will move in and receive social and work services.

Smoke comes out of the roof of ReMyx'd, a restaurant on Smokey Point Drive, on Sunday, May 28, 2023, in Arlington, WA. (IAFF Local 3438)
Fire damages Arlington bar that received death threats

Arlington Police say initial indications are that fire at ReMyx’d does not appear to be intentionally set.

Most Read