Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics on Wednesday against Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, with allegations that she lied about the circumstances surrounding her failure to pay nearly $500,000 in legal bills.
In August, Schmidt—who was pursuing a defamation lawsuit—was ordered by the House Ethics Committee to repay a Turkish-American group’s legal fees. The committee did not, however, hand down a formal punishment because it concluded that Schmidt's lawyers had misled her.
Schmidt said she never paid the bills because she didn’t receive any, but CREW thinks she broke the law by accepting a gift.
“If Representative Schmidt lied to investigators for the OCE and the House Ethics Committee, she may have committed a crime,” stated CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Her argument sounds remarkably like that made by the late Senator Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, who claimed he hadn’t paid contractors who worked on his house because he never received a bill. The difference is, Senator Stevens was indicted; Representative Schmidt walked away.”
Schmidt's office issued a stinging rebuttal on Wednesday.
“Nobody should be surprised that a liberal group like CREW would recycle the ridiculous complaints of an obsessed former political opponent,” said spokesman Barrett Brunsman. “Despite numerous investigations over the past several years, only one person has been found to have lied--and it wasn’t Congresswoman Schmidt.
“This boils down to the fact that Jean Schmidt is one of the most conservative Republicans in Congress, and that infuriates the left-wing activists at CREW as well as her former opponent--who has twice been rejected by voters,” Brunsman said.
CREW has also asked the FBI to investigate.