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The Journal Gazette

Monday, October 17, 2016 2:59 pm

House ethics panel takes up Stutzman 'matter'

Brian Francisco | Washington editor

The U.S. House Ethics Committee apparently is considering whether to investigate Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, before he leaves office this year.

Committee Chairman Charles Dent, R-Pa., and ranking member Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., released a statement Monday saying they "have jointly decided to extend the matter" and "will announce its course of action" by Nov. 29.

The statement does not specify what "the matter" involves. The Associated Press reported in April that Stutzman's campaign fund had spent more than $300,000 on flights, vehicles, meals and hotels since 2010. The AP also reported the campaign had paid $170,000 to Stutzman's wife's brother-in-law as its finance director.

"The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee," the Ethics Committee statement said.

The statement said the unspecified "matter" was transmitted to the committee Aug. 31 by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Stutzman said later in a statement that he "would take the Committee at its word" that its statement does not indicate a violation.

"I can only respond that I have always done everything I can to follow our House Rules and there is not an allegation in the referral from OCE that I have violated any ethics or other rules of the House," he said. "At this time, I will have no further comment on this matter until the Ethics Committee has completed its work. I do anticipate and look forward to a positive resolution of this matter."

Stutzman, a LaGrange County farmer who was first elected to Congress in 2010, will leave the House at the end of this year. He did not seek re-election, opting instead to run for the Republican nomination for an open Senate seat.

Rep. Todd Young, R-9th, easily defeated Stutzman in the May GOP primary election. Young faces former senator and former governor Evan Bayh in the Nov. 8 general election.

The AP also reported last spring that Stutzman's Senate campaign had paid for travel and hotel expenses for what his wife wrote on social media was a family vacation to California to visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library.

Stutzman's campaign said later that he had reimbursed his campaign for the personal expenses of Christy Stutzman and their two sons. Stutzman told Fort Wayne radio station WOWO that the Federal Election Commission had approved the expenses.