The U.S. House Committee on Ethics is extending its review into allegations of ethical violations against U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson involving his Cayman Islands hedge fund and other private businesses.
But the committee announced Tuesday it is not going to assign a subcommittee to investigate the charges.
Tuesday was the deadline for the committee to decide what to do with a list of as many as eight counts, including ethics and legal violations, brought against Grayson in December by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, which investigates such matters.
Grayson responded Tuesday by seizing on the fact that there will be no investigatory subcommittee, arguing that it’s the ethics committee’s way of quietly dropping matters.
“I think what that means, to be blunt, is that the show is over,” Grayson said. “It would be literally unprecedented for anything else to happen as a result of these complaints … There’ll be no further discussion, debate, announcements, referrals and certainly no sanctions of any kind, until after the election, when, in all likelihood, at that point in time, the complaint will simply be dismissed.”
He made that assertion, he said, based on the ethics committee’s track record of eventually dropping cases not referred to subcommittees. He did not base the claim on anything the committee actually announced Tuesday when it released documents in Grayson’s case.
He insisted the committee could find nothing against him, because there was nothing to find.
“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Grayson declared.
The committee opened the investigation in December, based on complaints that had been sent last summer to the Office of Congressional Ethics. The office, and later the committee, was looking into whether Grayson had mixed private business, particularly involving hedge funds, law firms and a consulting business he had managed or directed, with his role as a member of Congress.
There also were questions about whether he illicitly conflated official and campaign business in his congressional office.
News of the probes leaked last summer, but until now the exact nature of the charges was secret. That’s because such OCE and House Committee on Ethics documents are kept confidential until the committee releases them. It made them public Tuesday.
Nonetheless, the general nature of the investigation had been widely reported, leading Grayson’s Democratic opponent for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, to campaign on them and paint Grayson as unethical.
Grayson’s denial of wrongdoing, and his repudiation of each charge, were detailed in his 36-page defense given to the committee in January, which was released Tuesday.
He also blamed Murphy and his campaign for not only seeing the investigation through surrogates but also of fostering connections within the OCEs to push the investigation and leak information from it.
“I think Congressman Murphy is as crooked as a three dollar bill, but I’ll leave it up to you all to demonstrate that,” Grayson said at his news conference.
He went further in that Jan. 22 defense: Through his attorney, Brett G. Kappel of the Washington Office of Akerman LLP, he detailed his allegations of connections between the Murphy campaign and the committee, and offered evidence of leaks, claiming that Murphy’s campaign made statements it could have only known about through leaks. In that document, Grayson went so far as to charge that the office was corrupted and needed to be investigated.
“The (OCE) referral itself verges on the demented, in all of its Captain Ahab attempts to spear the white whale by coming up with something — anything — which to try to argue that some unethical conduct has occurred,” Kappel wrote.
Murphy’s campaign declined Tuesday to comment on Grayson’s statements or allegations about the campaign. However, Murphy’s people released a statement highlighting all the charges the Office of Congressional Ethics had brought against Grayson.
- Grayson may have continued to pursue and profit from whistleblower lawsuits against the U.S. government while he was part of the government, which would be a crime;
- He may have profited from managing hedge funds in his name while in Congress;
- He may have had a professional service and fiduciary role in those hedge funds while in Congress;
- Grayson may have failed to report all of his assets in his congressional financial disclosures;
- He may have had a congressional staffer who also was working for his private companies, and on his campaigns;
- And he may have improperly used his congressional office for two press interviews last summer when he discussed his U.S. Senate campaign business.
He essentially conceded the last point, saying the interviews were not supposed to be about his campaign, but politics came up, and he thought the only reasonable thing to do was to answer reporters’ questions.
Everyone in Congress does that, Grayson said, arguing the rules even allow for incidental mixing of campaign business.
Everything else he refuted, sometimes going into fine legal detail. At one point, his defense cited case law in federal courts, the state of Delaware and the Cayman Islands to argue that Grayson legally had no fiduciary role in his hedge funds, so he “had every reason to believe that it [the ethics rule] did not apply.”
For its part, the committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. Charles W. Dent, a Pennsylvania Republican, said nothing about the corruption charge raised in Grayson’s Jan. 22 defense. In fact, it said very little.
In its news release issued Tuesday, the committee advised that the continued probe implies nothing for sure one way or the other. In the release, the committee also stated that it would not make any further public statements on the matter until completion of the review.
“The committee notes that the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee,” the release stated.