The House Ethics Committee has closed its long-running probe into Rep. Gregory Meeks, announcing it will impose no penalties or sanctions against the New York Democrat.
The investigation into whether Meeks failed to disclose a loan – and whether the loan was proper in the first place – began in May 2011, when the case was referred to the Ethics Committee by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.
After a 19-month review, the lawmaker-run ethics panel said that it had “found no credible evidence” that Meeks’ failure to disclose the loan was “knowing or willful.” Meeks has already filed amendments to his financial disclosure forms to reflect the loan and thus the ethics committee determined that “no further action…is warranted,” in a joint statement from Republican Chairman Jo Bonner, R-Ala, and ranking Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif.
There had been additional allegations that the loan Meeks received – $40,000 from Edul Ahmad in 2007 – was not in fact a loan but an improper gift.
Meeks has insisted it was a proper loan, with terms set out in writing, but he has since misplaced the documents, the ethics panel said Thursday. Meeks said he repaid the loan in 2010 with 12.5 percent interest.
The panel said a lawyer for Ahmad disagreed and that there was “no loan document signed” by Meeks nor a fixed interested rate. But the panel couldn’t interview Ahmad, because he has already pled guility to fraud charges in an unrelated case and declined an interview. If called under subpoena, Ahmad’s lawyer said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, unless granted immunity.
“Considering the highly compromised credibility of Mr. Ahmad, unless he could provide some documentary evidence indicating that the payment to Representative Meeks was not a loan -- which his attorney has stated he cannot do -- it would be unreasonable for the Committee to conclude, on the basis of his testimony alone, that Representative Meeks had been untruthful,” the ethics panel said.