Silvestre Reyes Investigated for Ethics Violations

PHOTO: This Feb. 25, 2009 file photo shows Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas speaking on Capitol Hill in Washington. An independent House panel says there is substantial reason to believe Reyes violated ethics rules and federal law.

Texas Rep. Silvestre Reyes may have violated ethics rules and federal law.

According to an Office of Congressional Ethics report released Wednesday by the House Ethics Committee, the eight-term Democrat "may have held campaign meetings on House property. If Representative Reyes solicited or received campaign funds or held meetings that were political in nature while on House property, he may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law," reads the report.

"Representative Reyes may have improperly used campaign funds to pay for certain expenses related to his daughter's residence. If Representative Reyes used campaign funds for personal use, he may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law," it continues.

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The ethics office advised that the committee investigate and subpoena the congressman. The allegations, however, do not mean that the committee has reached a final decision.

"The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such a referral, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee," read a statement by Chairman Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Alabama) and ranking member Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-California) of the Ethics Committee.

As the Associated Press noted, Reyes' 2011 Federal Election Commission disclosure reports indicate he spent nearly $500 in campaign funds to conduct campaign meetings in the members' dining room in the Capitol. His campaign committee also paid about $13,000 from 2008 through 2012 on expenses for his daughter's home in Washington, where he appears to have a campaign office.

House property may not be used for campaigning, according to the House Ethics Manual, and federal employees may not receive donations in property intended for official government business. It is also against House rules to use political donations for personal use after legitimate and verifiable campaign expenditures, noted the AP.

Reyes disputes the allegations.

"Congressman Reyes has carried out his duties as the federal representative of El Paso with the highest level of ethics, strictly adhering to the rules governing the U.S. House of Representatives," read a statement released by Reyes' office. "He has full faith in the House Committee on Ethics, is fully cooperating with their review, and expects this referral to be disposed of quickly. To respect the Committee's process, Congressman Reyes and his staff will have no further comment at this time."

Reyes is set to leave Congress in January. He was defeated by opponent Beto O'Rourke, who also beat out Republican opponent Barbara Carrasco in the November election to win the District 16 seat.

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