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PRESS
May 19, 2008

CREW Sends House Ethics Committee Complaint Against Rep. Fossella

Congressman FossellaToday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent an ethics complaint against Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY) to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, better known as the Ethics Committee, asking for an investigation into whether he has violated any House rules.

On May 1, 2008, Rep. Fossella was stopped and arrested for drunk driving and soon thereafter, admitted that he had been having an affair with Lieutenant Colonel Laura Fay, and that the two have a three-year-old daughter together.

Reports have indicated that the affair commenced in 2002 during a congressional trip to Europe when Lt. Col. Fay was serving as an Air Force congressional liaison officer who traveled with congressional delegations. In the summer of 2003, Rep. Fossella took part in another congressional trip to Europe, during which the affair became obvious to other attendees. Rep. Fossella was not originally invited on the trip and had asked Scott Palmer, then Speaker Dennis Hastert’s chief of staff, to include him on the trip. At the end of the trip, Rep. Fossella decided to return home from Spain on a commercial flight instead of the military transport provided, costing taxpayers $2,094. Lt. Col. Fay left Speaker Hastert while on a special tour in order to accompany Rep. Fossella to the airport. Believing that Rep. Fossella and Lt. Col. Fay were “kind of cozy,” and that Lt. Col. Fay had shirked her responsibilities, Mr. Palmer made a mental note that Rep. Fossella was not to accompany the Speaker on any further trips. He also filed a complaint with the Air Force about Lt. Col. Fay’s unprofessional conduct and asked that she be reassigned.

In addition, although little information is publicly available, Rep. Fossella allegedly was the sole member of Congress who traveled to France in January 2003 in Lt. Col. Fay’s company.

Since the Ethics Committee is required to investigate Rep. Fossella’s drunk driving charges, it should take the opportunity to consider whether, by using taxpayer funded travel to pursue his romantic relationship with Lt. Col. Fay, Rep. Fossella violated House travel rules and the prohibition on conduct that does not reflect creditably on the House.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, said today, “Having an affair is one thing, conducting it at taxpayer expense is quite another. If that’s what happened, the Ethics Committee should hold him accountable.” Sloan continued, “On the other hand, counting on the Ethics Committee to take action is like waiting for Godot.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Stephen Santulli at 202.408.5565 or ssantulli@citizensforethics.org.

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