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House Ethics Committee Extends Campaign Finance Investigation Of Trahan

U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, speaks to delegates during the 2019 Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention, Sept. 14, 2019, in Springfield, Mass. (Jessica Hill/AP)
U.S. Rep. Lori Trahan, speaks to delegates during the 2019 Massachusetts Democratic Party Convention, Sept. 14, 2019, in Springfield, Mass. (Jessica Hill/AP)
This article is more than 1 year old.

The House Ethics Committee has extended its investigation into Rep. Lori Trahan and whether a loan she made to her campaign violated campaign finance rules.

The probe stemmed from allegations that Trahan violated campaign finance rules by accepting a $300,000 contribution from her husband, David Trahan. The Westford congresswoman said the contribution, made in the final days of her campaign last year, was a loan she made herself.

In a joint statement, House Ethics Committee Chairman Rep. Ted Deutche (D-Fla.) and ranking member Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) said that the committee would extend its probe of the matter "in order to gather additional information necessary to complete its review."

They also noted 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."

In a statement, Trahan's office denied any wrongdoing.

“The Federal Election Commission has found no violations in numerous cases involving the use of marital assets that closely mirror Congresswoman Trahan’s use of funds, which is why we remain confident that any review will rule in her favor," said Trahan spokesman Mark McDevitt. "We look forward to the Ethics Committee's final decision on this matter."

In April, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent agency that investigates alleged misconduct by member of Congress, questioning the source of the funds.

In his statement, McDevitt called FACT "a right-wing group with a long history of attacking Democrats, and is without merit."

Federal law places no limit on the amount candidates can contribute to their own campaign accounts. But spouses are bound by the same individual contribution limit — $2,800 per year — as other donors.

In September, OCE sent a confidential report to the House Ethics Committee, which was released by the House committee Tuesday. That report urged the Ethics Committee to open a probe "because there is substantial reason to believe that Rep. Trahan’s campaign committee accepted personal loans and contributions that exceeded campaign contribution limits" and "that Rep. Trahan failed to disclose required information in her congressional candidate financial disclosure reports or FEC campaign committee filings."

Trahan defended the use of the funds or her campaign in a response to OCE and in a Medium post in October, saying the money came from a joint account she holds with her husband, and that their finances have been merged for years.

“We considered all of the income that Dave and I earned to be ours, and I had the same right as Dave did to manage and spend it,” Trahan wrote in the post. “So, over the course of the campaign, we decided to move $300,000 from income Dave had earned to our joint checking account.”

In November, the committee sought more time to complete its review of Trahan’s case.

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Kimberly Atkins Stohr Twitter Senior News Correspondent
Kimberly Atkins was a senior news correspondent for WBUR, covering national political news from Washington, D.C., with a New England focus.

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