Rep. Owens’ trip under investigation
WASHINGTON (AP) – The House Ethics Committee said Wednesday it will continue to investigate whether a trip New York Democrat Bill Owens took to Taiwan was arranged by lobbyists for the country’s government.
The case had been referred to the House committee by the Office of Congressional Ethics, a separate, outside ethics office. The House committee announced its decision to continue looking into the case Wednesday, while releasing OCE’s report on the case.
In a statement, the ethics committee said “conducting further review … does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee.” The committee also said it would refrain from further comment pending completion of initial reviews.
The case relates to a December 2011 trip Owens and his wife took to Taiwan. Owens and his wife were invited by the Chinese Culture University of Taiwan. But the trip may have been arranged by lobbyists for the country. Lawmakers are prohibited from taking trips that are paid for by lobbyists.
Owens, whose congressional district includes Fulton and Hamilton counties, said he expected the investigation would clear him of wrongdoing.
“This is the next step in the process and I expect that ultimately it will result in an affirmation of my position that the trip was undertaken in the quest for jobs for my constituents and was done with every intention to comply with all applicable rules,” he said. “I hold myself and my office to the highest of ethical standards. Which is why, in abundance of caution, I have already personally reimbursed the sponsor of the trip for the cost.”