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Watchdog investigates 4 lawmakers on ethics violations

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Watchdog investigates 4 lawmakers on ethics violations
Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., is under investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics on allegations his wife, Victoria Kelly, purchased stocks with information gained from his office. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 22 (UPI) -- The Office of Congressional Ethics has recommended issuing subpoenas for four House lawmakers as it has "substantial reason to believe" that they have breached ethics laws.

The reports were released Thursday concerning Reps. Jim Hagedorn, R-Minn.; Mike Kelly, R-Pa.; Tom Malinowski, D-N.J.; and Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., stating they have declined to provide the office with requested information concerning investigations related to either the misuse of founds or the purchasing of stocks.

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According to the report on Hagedorn, he's under investigation on accusations of directing at least $453,000 of official funds to companies owned or controlled by two members of his staff who were suspend shortly after the issue made headlines in September of last year.

Friends of Hagedorn, his campaign committee, is also accused of failing to report having used private office space at no cost or for a rate below market value. However, starting in 2019, he began renting official office space at about $2,200 a month in the same building but on a different floor.

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The report states that Friends of Hagedorn has listed Suite 7 at 11 Civic Center Plaza in Mankato, Minn., as its mailing address since 2013. However, despite its use of the office, there have been no Federal Election Commission files of rental payments.

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The report states that the watchdog has sought his cooperation but he has refused.

Concerning Kelly, the committee said it is investigating whether his wife, Victoria Kelly, purchased between $15,001 and $50,000 worth of stock in Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. on April 29 of last year on confidential nonpublic information that he had access to during his duties.

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According to the report, Victoria Kelly purchased the stock a day after her husband's office learned that the Department of Commerce agreed to open an investigation that could benefit Cleveland-Cliffs.

"Victoria Kelly purchased stock in Cleveland-Cliffs just after the Commerce Department advised Cleveland-Cliffs about its planned support ... but before the department publicly announced this course of action," the report said.

Malinowski is being investigated for failing to disclose stock transactions.

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According to the report, as a new member of Congress in January 2019, he was trained on his financial disclosure obligations under the STOCK Act but he did not file Periodic Transaction Reports as he was required as "he regularly traded securities."

Staff periodically reminded him to file the PTRs and he received monthly statements from his broker that included all the transactions made in his account, it said.

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"The OCE received and reviewed these statements, which confirm that Rep. Malinowski's broker made reportable transactions each month," it said.

Mooney is under scrutiny on accusations he "converted" expended funds from his campaign committees for personal use and failed to disclose required information in his FEC candidate committee filings.

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