Butterfield cleared of per diem misuse

Published 8:26 pm Friday, January 7, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC – Citing insufficient evidence, the bipartisan ethics committee of the U.S. House of Representatives has cleared North Carolina First District Congressman G.K. Butterfield of allegedly misusing per diem travel payments.

The announcement came Dec. 31 from the two ranking members of the ethics committee – Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California and Rep. Joe Bonner of Alabama.

The committee reported that over a 14-month span in 2008 and 2009, Rep. Butterfield, despite being the beneficiary of what was termed as “hosted meals”, received excess per diem for four trips to foreign counties.

Through its probe of the matter, the committee learned that Rep. Butterfield failed to return $1,509 in per diem money from those trips. The investigation also found that he used per diem for non-related travel expenses (purchasing souvenirs).

While members of the U.S. House are urged to return unused per diem, they are not required to post receipts.

The ethics committee concluded….“there is insufficient evidence to determine with any degree of certainty that any one of the members were provided an amount of per diem that was not necessary for their respective trips.”

The probe of alleged misuse of per diem involved Butterfield and five of his Congressional colleagues – Representatives Alcee Hastings of Florida, Solomon Ortiz of Texas, Eliot Engel of New York, Robert Aderholt of Alabama and Joe Wilson of South Carolina.

The independent Office of Congressional Ethics originally acted on the six cases, referring each to the U.S. House ethics committee, after the Wall Street Journal published a story in August of last year concerning members of Congress who had failed to return the unused travel per diems. That money is used to cover meals and travel expenses.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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