Rep un­der fi­nance probe:

Arab Times - - INTERNATIO­NAL -

The US Jus­tice Depart­ment is in­ves­ti­gat­ing a for­mer Florida Con­gress­woman ac­cused of spend­ing at least $50,000 of cam­paign money on va­ca­tions and restau­rant and lux­ury ho­tel bills.

The fed­eral depart­ment’s Public In­tegrity Sec­tion is look­ing into the ex­pen­di­tures by Ileana RosLe­hti­nen, a US Rep from Mi­ami, in­clud­ing a 2017 trip to Walt Dis­ney World with her chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, rooms at a RitzCarl­ton re­sort and a New Year’s Eve meal at a high-end seafood restau­rant.

Jeffrey Weiner, an at­tor­ney for Ros-Le­hti­nen, said in a state­ment to WFOR-TV, which first re­ported the in­ves­ti­ga­tion Wed­nes­day, that Ros-Le­hti­nen was aware of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and she and for­mer staff mem­bers and vol­un­teers were co­op­er­at­ing with the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion and the Jus­tice Depart­ment.

In a state­ment to the Mi­ami Her­ald, the at­tor­ney added that they are turn­ing over cam­paign fi­nance and other records subpoe­naed by the Jus­tice Depart­ment.

“We ... are con­fi­dent that, if book­keep­ing er­rors were com­mit­ted, they were due to neg­li­gence, and not will­ful or in­ten­tional mis­con­duct by the for­mer con­gress­woman or any­one on her staff, or her ac­coun­tants,” the news out­lets quoted Weiner as say­ing.

Ros-Le­hti­nen, a Repub­li­can who rep­re­sented Florida’s 27th con­gres­sional district, de­clined to seek re­elec­tion in 2018 af­ter a 30-year ca­reer in Congress dur­ing which she be­came the first woman elected to Congress from Florida and the first His­panic woman elected to Congress. Fol­low­ing her re­tire­ment an­nounce­ment in April 2017, she trans­ferred more than $177,000 from her re­elec­tion cam­paign ac­count to a po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tee she con­trolled, WFORTV re­ported. Fed­eral law pro­hibits cam­paign funds, in­clud­ing those trans­ferred to PACs from be­ing spent on per­sonal use.

But ex­pense re­ports from her PAC show she spent nearly $4,000 on a Dis­ney World trip in De­cem­ber 2017, a com­bined $44,000 on rooms at ho­tels in New York and Florida, as well as more than $3,000 at a Mi­ami restau­rant in 2018.

Weiner de­clined to ex­plain the cam­paign-re­lated pur­pose of the ex­pen­di­tures but said his team has not “found any ev­i­dence what­so­ever of in­ten­tional wrong­do­ing” by the for­mer Con­gress­woman or her staff, adding that he was con­fi­dent pros­e­cu­tors would ul­ti­mately de­cline to file charges against the politi­cian.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment and Ros-Le­hti­nen de­clined to com­ment to the news out­lets.

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