Alan Grayson Claims Ethics Investigation Into His Business Dealings Is Political Witch Hunt

Rep. Alan Grayson
Rep. Alan Grayson

The Office of Congressional Ethics dropped its report about Rep. Alan Grayson today, and it shows there's "substantial reason to believe" Grayson broke the law and ran afoul of House ethics rules while he ran a small hedge fund. 

Grayson's campaign has shot back by calling the investigation a "politically motivated" witch hunt akin to Republicans' probe into Hillary Clinton's actions during the attack on Benghazi. 

In fact, Grayson responded to the OCE's findings by demanding an ethics investigation into the OCE itself. 

Grayson, a noted firebrand liberal, is running for the Democratic nomination in the U.S. Senate race to replace Marco Rubio. The Democratic establishment, including President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, have largely rallied around and endorsed his competitor, Rep. Patrick Murphy, a moderate from the Palm Beach area. 

At the heart of the investigation is a relatively small hedge fund, once known as the Grayson Fund and now known as the Sybilline Fund. Grayson originally served in Congress for a single term between 2008 and 2010. He was defeated for re-election but was elected again in 2012. 

It was during that gap that he began the campaign. It was launched to manage the wealth of Grayson and his family. Though, at one point, two of Grayson's longtime personal friends were also investors. Two other people were also briefly minor investors. Worth $16 million, the fund is relatively small by most hedge fund standards. 

The OCE report states it believes Grayson ran afoul of the law by using his name on the fund while still a member of Congress and by receiving fees for professional services from the fund after he returned to the House in 2012. The report also believes evidence suggests that Grayson's congressional staffer may have used official resources to work for the fund and that Grayson may not have included information related to the fund in his annual financial disclosure statements. 

You can read the full report here

However, the report's findings do not automatically lead to punishment. The OCE will continue to investigate the matter, but notably, a separate investigative subcommittee was not established. 

"The Ethics Committee decision against establishing an investigative subcommittee is highly significant, because in every single case where the Ethics Committee has issued a formal sanction (expulsion, censure or reprimand) against a member of Congress based on an OCE referral, it has done so only after establishing an investigative subcommittee," Grayson wrote in a response to today's news issued to supporters

In a 35-page letter to the OCE, Grayson's attorney Brett G. Kappel has harsher words. 

Kappel attempts to dismiss the allegations one by one and paints the investigation as a witch hunt. 

He points out the original complaint was filed by a Murphy supporter and claims the complaint was prepared at the expense of Murphy's campaign committee. 

Kappel further claims that Murphy's campaign and staffers tried to use the possibility of an investigation to push Grayson to drop out of the campaign and that key details from the investigation seemed to be strategically leaked to the media. 

"The initial pages of the Grayson rebuttal detail a disturbing and illegal collusion between OCE staff and the official staff of Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL). Those pages lay out how Murphy’s official staff illegally obtained confidential OCE information and then disseminated it to the media for the benefit of Murphy’s Senate campaign. Rep. Grayson has asked that the Ethics Committee 'initiate an investigation of the Office of Congressional Ethics and Congressional staff, and take appropriate action against all those employees who have violated House Resolution 895, the OCE Code of Conduct, and the Rules of the House,'" Grayson wrote. 

Of course, some critics question certain elements of Grayson's rebuttal. 

By and large, Florida voters still remain relatively uninformed about the Senate race. Several polls show Grayson with a slight lead over Murphy, though about a third of voters remain undecided. However, Murphy fares slightly better against Republican challengers in general election polls. 

The primary race is slated for August. 

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