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House Ethics Committee declines to drop Rep. Peter Roskam probe: Taiwan trip at issue

Updated.... WASHINGTON--The House Committee on Ethics on Wednesday said it is extending and pursuing its own investigation of Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.). While the panel did not specify what is at issue, earlier this year Roskam disclosed it was over the funding of an October, 2011 trip to Taiwan he took with his wife--at a time his daughter was living in Taiwan. The committee announced last July it was looking into allegations about Roskam forwarded to the panel by the independent, non-partisan Office of Congressional Ethics on June 13. On the day of the July announcement, Roskam took the unusual step of releasing the documents relating to the investigation, highlighting the approval he had from the ethics committee to accept the free travel before he took the trip. In a brief statement, the committee said "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 committee at this stage could have opted to drop or dismiss the matter. The committee also declined to empanel a special investigative committee, which would have taken it a step further than it did. Stephanie Kittredge, Roskam's Communications Director said in a statement Wednesday “The record reflects that Rep. Roskam fully complied with all laws, rules, and procedures related to privately sponsored travel. The trip was vetted and approved by the House Ethics Committee, the body legally authorized to make determinations on Congressional conduct." Roskam has been voluntarily cooperating with the committee. At issue is whether the $25,652 costs for the trip were paid for by the Chinese Culture University–a permitted funder — or as the independent Office of Congressional Ethics asserts, the Roskam visit was “organized and conducted by the government of Taiwan, with little to no involvement by the University,” which would make it an impermissible funding source. Roskam is the Chief Deputy Whip, a top member of the House GOP leadership team. Roskam has retained the law firm of Patton Boggs to represent him and has been paying the firm through his campaign fund. The eight-member House ethics panel is divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans.