Louisiana Citizen Files Ethics Complaint Against Congressman Bill Cassidy
BATON ROUGE — Dr. Gilda Werner Reed, a faculty member at the University of New Orleans, today filed a formal complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, urging the office to investigate whether Congressman Bill Cassidy violated House rules and federal law by “filing inaccurate personal financial disclosures and misreporting the nature of his outside earned income.” The complaint comes a week after media reports unveiled Congressman Cassidy has been receiving salaries for two taxpayer-funded jobs, despite not working the hours he was paid for.
“These recent reports have shown that not only did Congressman Cassidy charge taxpayers more than $100,000 for work he did not do, he may have also lied to the U.S. House of Representatives to cover up a legal and ethical breach,” Dr. Reed said. “Congressman Cassidy’s actions are more than a betrayal of public trust by a public official — they are illegal, and the seriousness of this betrayal should not be understated.”
In addition to drawing a salary that he did not earn, the recently disclosed documents also expose that he may have misled the U.S. House of Representatives about how he was making extra money. According to the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, violating these rules can result in up to $50,000 in penalties and one year in prison, which can go up to five years imprisonment if a member willfully makes false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements to the federal government.
The letter to the ethics office outlines two primary charges: that Congressman Cassidy misreported the nature of his income and misreported the source of his income.
Congressman Cassidy’s personal financial disclosure forms have said he receives $20,000 per year from the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC). On his 2012 and 2013 forms, Congressman Cassidy claimed the money only covered his expenses and that he did not “profit” from it. When questioned about those expenses, his office explained he meant his medical malpractice insurance. But a letter from the House Committee on Ethics that surfaced last week, as well as reports in the media, found that based on what Congressman Cassidy told them, LSUHSC already covers medical malpractice insurance and other expenses, and that the $20,000 per year salary was in addition to all of that — a direct contradiction to his financial disclosure forms.
The letter also explicitly states that Congressman Cassidy may only receive compensation for the responsibilities of his teaching position, and that he cannot earn income from serving as a consultant to LSUHSC. But, according to media reports, Congressman Cassidy’s former direct supervisor has told the media that Congressman Cassidy has been working as an “outside consultant for the school,” which would be a breach of the House Committee on Ethics’ guidelines.
The letter is addressed to the Office of Congressional Ethics, which is an independent, nonpartisan office governed by a board of private citizens. The office reviews allegations of misconduct by members of the U.S. House of Representatives and recommends whether there is need of further review by the House Committee on Ethics.
The full letter to the committee can be seen here: