The House Ethics committee is continuing an investigation into Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) to determine whether he improperly used funds to pay a former staffer, according to a statement released Monday. Gutierrez is under review for allegedly paying his former chief of staff Douglas Scofield thousands of dollars a month to provide training, which may not be permissible under House rules.
Gutierrez paid Scofield $595,000 for providing services that included staff development and training between 2003 and 2013, according to a report released by the committee. Because the funds were reportedly derived from the Congressman’s Members’ Representational Allowance — his office’s annual budget — Gutierrez may have violated congressional rules. While funds from the Allowance may be used to hire a contractor, the services Scofield provided “more closely resembled those performed by an employee or consultant – someone who provides professional advice or services—than those performed by a contractor – someone who performs a discrete task or job, such as maintenance, data entry, custodial services, or staff training,” the report says.
The investigation was reportedly sparked after USA Today published an article in June noting Scofield had been paid over $500,000 after he left Gutierrez’s staff. The Office of Congressional Ethics referred their report to the House committee, which decided Monday to review the matter further. Scofield, who is currently a lobbyist, worked as the Congressman’s Chief of Staff, until 2002 before leaving and eventually launching his own Chicago-based firm.
The committee released the following statement on the review: "The Committee notes that the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee."
Rep. Gutierrez's spokesman Douglas G. Rivlin, also released a statement on the investigation: " As the Committee reviews this matter, Congressman Gutiérrez and his office will continue to cooperate fully. As the Committee points out, its review does not indicate that any violation has occurred or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee."