House GOP aides charged with paying for a congressional hearing assistance package have been charged with fraud, the first time in decades the House has charged anyone with a felony over alleged misuse of the program.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee charged Republican National Committee staffer Aaron Zuckerman and his wife, Stephanie Zuckman, with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and making false statements to Congress.
Zuckermans’ attorney, Charles H. Ruddy, has said the couple was not aware of the misuse of House-approved hearing aid money and were not authorized to accept it.
Rep. Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the committee, said in a statement that the charges “are disturbing.
While they could have been prevented by the proper congressional oversight, their conduct is unacceptable and must be stopped.”
Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., the chairman of the committee and the ranking member of the Oversight and Privacy Subcommittee, said the charges are “clearly designed to damage Rep. Zuckserman and further harm the credibility of the Committee.”
Reporters for The Washington Post and USA Today first reported the charges Wednesday.
The newspaper reported that Zuckersmans had been reimbursed $4,400 in total for his work as an aide to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
He did not respond to a request for comment.
ZUCKERMANS IS A PRIVATE FIRM?
Zuckermans was not a member of Cantor’s campaign or the GOP.
He worked as Cantor’s spokesman for two years and later as a communications aide.
The Republican Party paid for his services during the 2011 and 2012 elections.
Zuckermans did not disclose his payments to the committee.
He said he was unaware of the charge until the committee issued a press release Wednesday.
“I am thankful for the bipartisan leadership of the House Oversight Committee that has stood up for the truth, integrity and fairness of our democracy,” Zuckmermans said in the statement.
ZUNGERMANS’ COUNSELOR DIDN’T RESPOND TO THE REPORT He was not represented by a lawyer and the committee said he could not comment on the charges.
Zinkermans is not the first Republican aide to be charged in the House over the use of the Congressional Hearing Assistance Program.
Last year, Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois was charged with lying to Congress over his work for Cantor’s reelection campaign.
Roskomans lawyer told The Washington Times in an email that the charge is “unfounded.”
Roskams attorney said the allegations were not related to Roskamer’s work as a political adviser and said his client did not seek assistance for his campaign.
The committee has said it will take action against Roskaman if he violates the House’s rules governing the program or fails to respond to it.
Rosakam’s spokesman did not return a call seeking comment.
Roskinam has said he is cooperating with the House committee’s probe and is cooperating fully.
A spokeswoman for Roskameres office did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday.