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US Rep. Mollohan Recuses Self From Justice Department Budget Work January 10, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Politics, US News.
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WASHINGTON (AP)–U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan, under Justice Department investigation about whether he has benefited from directing federal funds to nonprofit groups he helped start, recused himself Wednesday from working on the department’s budget.

The move came on the day Mollohan, D-W.Va., was named chairman of an Appropriations subcommittee responsible for the department’s budget.

At issue is at least $202 million of federal funding that Mollohan has steered to five nonprofit groups in his district – with much of the money going to organizations run by people who contribute to the lawmaker’s campaigns.

Last year, Mollohan stepped down from the House ethics committee after media reports into his activities, and the FBI soon launched an investigation. A conservative group, the National Legal and Policy Center, has alleged that the 12-term congressman has undervalued his assets in annual financial disclosure reports.

Mollohan and a political action committee he controls have received more than $146,000 in the past 10 years from donors affiliated with these nonprofits.

Earlier this year, the FBI subpoenaed financial records from the nonprofits, though no charges have been filed.

Mollohan has denied any wrongdoing and made the decision to step aside from the Justice Department budget on his own, said his spokesman, Gerry Griffith.

“These charges are rubbish, and whatever financial success my wife and I have had is a result of my wife’s expertise and her years of experience in real estate,” Mollohan told his Democratic colleagues at a private meeting.

Mollohan nonetheless opted to recuse himself from consideration of “any related Justice Department accounts.”

“I have never received word from the Justice Department about the scope, nature or state of these inquiries,” Mollohan said.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, praised Mollohan and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., “for recognizing that recusal is the appropriate course of action.”

Sloan criticized Republicans for not requiring Appropriations Committee members Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., and John Doolittle, R-Calif., also under Justice Department scrutiny, for not making similar moves to recuse themselves from the Justice Department budget.

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