North Carolina Pol Seeks |to Head Off Dual Probes

     CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CN) – U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger has asked the bipartisan House Ethics Committee to conduct a full investigation of his connections to his former real estate company, Pittenger Land Investments, which has been the focus of an FBI and IRS probe.
     Federal investigators have been scrutinizing personal loans and contributions the Republican congressman made to his 2012 campaign. The FBI and IRS want to find out if he illegally transferred money from his real estate company.
     While candidates for office can loan money to their campaigns for any amount, it must be personal funds. In 2012, Pittenger contributed approximately $1.6 million and loaned $644,000 to his campaign. Based on his 2013 financial disclosure report, Pittenger is the 55th wealthiest member of Congress, earning most of his money in real estate.
     The congressman has repeatedly denied doing anything improper.
     “I have lived a life of integrity, personally, professionally, and in public service,” Pittenger said in a statement released Thursday. “Regrettably, recent media reports have not conveyed accurate information regarding our activities. Out of respect for my constituents, and love for my family, I am requesting a full investigation by the Ethics Committee to confirm my compliance with House rules. My objective is to address these issues directly and confirm that I have always acted properly and in full respect for the law and House Ethics rules.”
     After Pittenger was elected to Congress in 2012, he transferred the company to his wife because congressional rules prohibit members from participating in professions that manage other people’s assets due to the possibility of conflicts of interest.
     The Charlotte Observer has reported that some investors of Pittenger’s company have been displeased with PLI’s performance and have raised questions about the company’s bookkeeping and accounting practices. The newspaper also reported that Pittenger has continued to be involved in the company.
     Pittenger says he has often sought guidance from Ethics Committee staff regarding his role with PLI to ensure that he remained in full compliance with the law. Now, he is seeking an investigation to confirm that has always been the case.
     “My request today is that the House Committee on Ethics review my conduct with respect to PLI and confirm that I have always held myself to the highest standard,” Pittenger wrote in a letter to the committee. “I welcome the Committee’s thorough review, and am prepared to provide my full cooperation, including whatever documents, information, or anything else the Committee needs to complete its review.”

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