Via POLITICO last night – A $22,000 trip to Taiwan taken by Rep. Bill Owens (D-Plattsburgh) will be reviewed by the House Ethics Committee.
According to House rules, the committee has 45 days to review the request and decide whether or not to launch a formal probe or release the investigation. The committee can extend this review period for another 45 days if necessary.
Owens released a statement –
“This is the next step in the process and I expect that ultimately it will result in an affirmation of my position that the trip was undertaken in the quest for jobs for my constituents and was done with every intention to comply with all applicable rules,” Owens said. “I hold myself and my office to the highest of ethical standards. Which is why, in abundance of caution, I have already personally reimbursed the sponsor of the trip for the cost.”
Before he was a Congressman, Owens spent years on the front lines, trying to recruit big companies for his district as the business lawyer on a team of economic developers. The only difference is that he, like the many others among the team, believed the jobs and companies were just north of the border in Canada. Never once was there mentioning of Taiwan, let alone Asia, as a potential job market for upstate, New York.
Owens claims that in an abundance of caution, he has repaid the full price of the Taiwan trip. While all of this is true, the legality of the trip, and the means to pay for said trip, remains in question.
If paying the money back was all that was necessary, I suspect there are a few bank robbers who would like to repay what was temporarily borrowed.