Roskam cleared in Taiwan trip investigation
The U.S. House Ethics Committee Friday closed the investigation into Rep. Peter Roskam's 2011 trip to Taiwan after months of review without recommending disciplinary actions.
"The House Ethics Committee's unanimous, bipartisan vote to close this case without finding any wrongdoing confirms what Rep. Roskam has said all along -- that he and his staff have complied with all laws, rules, and procedures related to privately sponsored travel," Roskam spokeswoman Stephanie Kittredge said in a statement. "Early in the process, Rep. Roskam voluntarily released all of the documents related to this review so that anyone could examine the matter themselves."
Roskam and his wife took the $25,000 trip paid for by the Chinese Culture University in Taipei. The Wheaton Republican argued during the probe that the committee had signed off on the trip in advance and his office followed the rules.
The Ethics Committee report Friday said it was "inconclusive" whether the university was a "proper sponsor," and it couldn't compel testimony to get the information it needed to make that call. The investigation was closed because there was "insufficient evidence to show that Rep. Roskam's travel was improper."
The report says trips paid for by "money-only" sponsors that don't participate in the planning can be improper but that "the Committee cannot determine whether CCU's involvement in both trips was significant enough for CCU to be considered a legitimate sponsor."
Plus, it says, distinguishing right and wrong can be "confusing" and "it is not fair to say that the members in this circumstance had reason to know that CCU might not be a permissible sponsor, particularly given the committee's own difficulty with reaching a conclusion on the question with the available facts and evidence."
The committee first made public the investigation in July and extended it in September, giving few clues in the meantime how it might rule.
The probe shined a light on privately funded congressional travel, which some watchdogs say can either be valuable experiences or junkets.
Roskam had taken six trips worth $79,000 since taking office in 2007, a relatively small number compared to U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky's 23 trips worth about $198,000 in the same time.