The chairman of the California Republican Party has filed an ethics complaint against Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, requesting an investigation into whether she violated House rules by renting a room to a staff member and failing to report it on financial disclosure records and tax returns.
“The public record makes clear that Rep. Capps failed to disclose to Congress and to the IRS a financial transactional relationship with someone who was receiving both campaign and federal dollars,” the state Republican Party said in a news release.
Chair Tom Del Beccaro sent a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics requesting an investigation, the news release stated. The Office of Congressional Ethics is an independent entity that accepts complaints of wrongdoing from the public and can submit recommendations to the Committee on Ethics.
However, a spokesman for Capps’ campaign said Saturday that the House Committee on Ethics had previously informed the congresswoman that there was no violation.
“We realize it’s the final weekend so we were expecting a desperate act from Mr. (Abel) Maldonado, who is trying to escape responsibility for his $4.2 million in back taxes and still hasn’t released his tax returns as he promised,” spokesman Jeff Millman said.
Maldonado, the Republican former lieutenant governor, and Capps are locked in a tight race for the 24th Congressional District seat.
Earlier this year, revelations surfaced that the Central Coast congresswoman had not fully reported rental income for about five years.
The belatedly reported income came from one of Capps’ campaign and congressional staffers, who rented a room in her Santa Barbara residence from 2001 to 2005, according to articles by McClatchy’s Washington Bureau.
Though Capps’ accountant finally reported the rental income to the House in 2006, Capps only filed amended tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service this year.
“Once I realized there was a mistake, I immediately fixed it. I would hope my opponent would do the same,” Capps said in a statement at the time, according to previous news reports.
The Republican Party complaint states Federal Elections Commission records show the staffer, Jeremy Tittle, had a different residential address than Capps’ home.
“A closer look at Rep. Capps’ FEC campaign financial reports reveal a troubling discrepancy that speaks to whether or not the failure to report the rental income was a deliberate effort to conceal or a reporting oversight,” the complaint states, according to the press release.
It also questions whether Tittle, who also worked for her political campaigns, was paying rent from income he received as a congressional staffer or from her campaign.
The complaint comes two days after the California Democratic Party called for a state investigation into whether Maldonado failed to disclose two 2007 state campaign fund-raising events to regulators in violation of campaign financing law, according to McClatchy’s Washington Bureau.
The Maldonado campaign called the request a political stunt.