* No surprise here…
An independent Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group named U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) to its fourth annual list of the “20 most corrupt members of Congress” on Wednesday, singling out for scrutiny his local chief of staff, Oak Lawn Trustee Jerry Hurckes.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington claims Hurckes may have violated the prohibition against congressional staffers serving as lobbyists. It also argues his acceptance of contributions to his trustee campaign from interests with business before a committee on which Lipinski serves may violate House ethics rules. And the group also questions the $60,000 in consulting fees he received from Bridgeview Bank.
“Mr. Hurckes clearly used his position in the House to provide special treatment to his constituents and encouraged the notion that his constituents would receive preferential treatment from Rep. Lipinski’s congressional office,” CREW stated in a news release.
Hurckes said neither he nor Lipinski, of Western Springs, has done anything wrong and that CREW’s claims amount to “a rehash of old news.”
Lipinski dismissed the charges against Hurckes and pointed out that while it’s his name on the list, CREW said little about the congressman himself.
It’s true that not much was said about Lipinski, but he is, obviously, the responsible party.
* Here’s an excerpt from the CREW report…
Given that Mr. Hurckes is the most highly paid staff member in Rep. Lipinski’s office, that his position is a full-time job and is generally considered a “senior staff” position, the fact that Mr. Hurckes’ salary is just under the figure that would make him “senior staff” suggests that Rep. Lipinski is paying Mr. Hurckes a salary under this limit precisely so that he can earn a substantial outside income. As a result, the House Ethics committee ought to investigate whether Rep. Lipinski and Mr. Hurckes are attempting to end-run the outside income restrictions.
* And here’s another one..
Finally, by accepting money for his local electoral campaign from companies with interests before Rep. Lipinski, Mr. Hurckes is using his position as a congressional staff member to accept benefits under circumstances which might be construed by reasonable persons as influencing the performance of official duties in violation of House rules.
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