Legal Filings

Legal Filings
Oct 26, 2011

CREW Files OCE Complaint Against Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH) for Lying to Investigators

Jean SchmidtWashington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) alleging Representative Jean Schmidt (R-OH) lied in an effort to thwart investigations by the OCE and the House Ethics Committee into her failure to pay almost $500,000 in legal bills. CREW also asked the FBI to investigate. 

Earlier this year, the House Ethics Committee cleared Rep. Schmidt of lying on her financial disclosure forms and violating House gift rules after she failed to report free legal services she received from lawyers working for the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund (TALDF), who were paid by the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA). The congresswoman claimed her lawyers had never discussed fees with her and that she had not paid the bills because she had never received any.  One of Rep. Schmidt’s lawyers, Bruce Fein, disputes this account.  Click here to read CREW’s complaint.

“If Rep. Schmidt lied to investigators for the OCE and the House Ethics Committee, she may have committed a crime,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Her argument sounds remarkably like that made by the late Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK), who claimed he hadn’t paid contractors who worked on his house because he never received a bill. The difference is Sen. Stevens was indicted; Rep. Schmidt walked away.” 

In an interview with the OCE, Mr. Fein stated it was always clear to the congresswoman that the TCA was paying for his services.  The Ethics Committee’s report said Schmidt didn’t ask her lawyers how they were being paid.  Further, Rep. Schmidt was present during a deposition in Ohio when the issue of who was paying her legal fees was discussed.  Rep. Schmidt’s failure to pay her legal bills landed her on CREW’s 2011 Most Corrupt Members of Congress Report.  

“While the inquiry into Rep. Schmidt’s failure to pay her legal bills is over, now the OCE should consider whether the congresswoman lied during the course of the investigation," said Ms. Sloan.  "Government officials never learn, it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up."

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