Complaint Dropped against Gephardt but House Ethics Committee Broadens Inquiry of Gingrich over College Course

Article excerpt

The House ethics committee Saturday dismissed a complaint against Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-south St. Louis County, bringing to a close the dispute about a North Carolina beach house that the congressman and his wife owned.

The panel also kept alive a complaint against House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., alleging that he broke federal election, campaign-finance and tax laws. It dismissed allegations that Gingrich improperly intervened with federal agencies on behalf of financial supporters.

The complaint against Gephardt was filed Feb. 8 by Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash. On Saturday, Gephardt called Dunn's allegations "transparently partisan and retaliatory." Dunn could not be reached for comment. Her complaint questioned the way Gephardt characterized the resort property on House financial disclosure reports and on his tax returns. It also said Gephardt failed to disclose some loans for the property and that he might have violated campaign finance laws in connection with fund-rais ing events held in North Carolina. In a letter to Gephardt, the panel said, "Based on the information made available to the committee, including an affidavit from a financial institution, the committee has determined that the complaint does not merit further inquiry and is hereby dismissed." The panel gave no details about the affidavit, but it presumably was related to the complaint's allegation that when Gephardt applied for a loan, he improperly said he intended to use the property as a second home. Instead, the Gephardts and their co-owner rented out the house to vacationers. The committee said it had been unable to act earlier in part because Gephardt didn't amend his financial disclosure report until Friday, when, for the first time, he reported about $25,000 in rental income from 1992. Gephardt said his lawyer discovered the omission after reviewing documents during the investigation. The rental income was not part of the complaint. In its letter, the committee noted that Gephardt had previously amended his disclosure statements about the property. …


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