The Senate Ethics Committee on Monday filed a complaint with the Justice Department seeking records related to its investigation into allegations that former Democratic Senator Chuck Grassley violated federal law by using his official Senate office to meet with a lobbyist during a recess in 2014.
The investigation into whether Grassley violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that bars political campaign spending on federal employees, began in July of 2016 after an email chain involving former Republican Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, revealed that the chairman of the committee had asked Conaway to meet in person with a consultant who was working on a project related to his reelection campaign.
The complaint by the committee, which is investigating whether any of the $90,000 in reimbursements Conaway allegedly received from the firm were improperly appropriated, says Conaway used his office for the purpose of obtaining information about the work of a former lobbyist, David Tepper, and the firm’s clients, including a “top secret” source in the Trump transition team.
It’s unclear how many times the Grassley office asked Conaways to meet the consultant, Tepper or the firm.
Grassley’s office declined to comment on the investigation.
In a statement, Grassley said he had used his official office to “meet with and confer with David Teppers senior staff on his work for a non-government organization.”
The senator said that he had “never been asked by the Committee to do so.”
“I have never met with David, nor ever sought his advice, guidance, or assistance with any matter that he has been involved in,” Grassley said.
“I have always sought to do my job for the country, and have always maintained that I would do that regardless of any advice or input from Mr. Tepper.”
Grassley also said that his office had “no recollection” of Tepper ever being in contact with any lobbyists or clients who could be described as having a “Top Secret” designation, something that could include contractors, foreign governments, foreign intelligence agencies, or foreign government officials.
Grassland, who is running for reelection, said that while he did not have the means to hire or pay Tepper himself, he would have been able to hire other consultants.
“David was one of many, many talented and qualified individuals who worked with me,” Grassley added.
“It is my belief that we could have hired someone to do the same job, but I did not want to do that.”
Grinds office said in a statement that it was not aware of the letter, which was not dated, but said it would investigate the matter further.
A spokesperson for Grassley’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.