On May 8, 2015, the Office of Congressional Ethics transmitted a referral to the Committee on Ethics of the United States House of Representatives regarding Rep. James Bridenstine.
Nature of Review
In May 2013, Representative Bridenstine traveled to Baku, Azerbaijan. The travel was disclosed to the Committee on Ethics as funded and sponsored solely by a single private, non-profit source. However, various additional entities that were not disclosed to the Committee on Ethics appear to have been funders or organizers, or both, of the trip. Some of these additional entities appear to have been prohibited by House rules and regulations, standards of conduct, and federal law from providing such congressional travel.
If the trip was funded or organized by one or more entities prohibited from providing congressional travel, then Representative Bridenstine may have received an impermissible gift of travel expenses in violation of House rules and regulations, standards of conduct, and federal law.
The Board recommended that the Committee on Ethics further review the above allegation concerning the trip, as there is a substantial reason to believe that although Representative Bridenstine did not knowingly accept, he nevertheless received an impermissible gift of travel proscribed by House rules and regulations, standards of conduct, and federal law.
On July 31, 2015, the Committee on Ethics released the OCE report regarding Rep. Bridenstine but not the findings.
On September 25, 2015, the Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics voted to release the OCE’s report and findings in this matter. The Board acted pursuant to House Resolution 895 of the 110th Congress § 1(f)(1)(B) (2008), which provides that the Board may release “any communication” pursuant to its rules or as “necessary to conduct official business.”