You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

breaking news

Ohio man accused of trying to join ISIS in Syria

Schmidt skirts legal bills by leaving Congress


Former U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Loveland, has avoided an order to repay roughly $500,000 that the House Ethics Committee ruled she wrongly accepted in legal fees from a Turkish-American group.

The order stems from a U.S. House committee ruling that Schmidt violated House rules when she let the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund pay for a slew of legal battles against her 2008 Democratic opponent David Krikorian.

While the committee found her error wasn’t intentional and decided not to sanction her, it said she “must disclose and repay the improper gift.

However, now that Schmidt is out of Congress after losing the Republican primary last year, she no longer falls under the jurisdiction of the House committee and therefore does not have to repay the money, legal experts told the Dayton Daily News.

Schmidt’s final financial disclosure statement filed in March states she owes three legal firms — two named as being paid by the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund in the committee report — between $515,000 and $1,050,000 combined.

The committee allowed Schmidt to create a legal expense trust to raise money to pay down the bills. But it has made only one payment of $42,812, according to the quarterly filings obtained by the Daily News. The only outside contribution to the trust was $5,000 in April 2012 from a company with Turkish ties.

Craig Holman, government ethics lobbyist for the left-leaning political action group Public Citizen, said Schmidt is not obligated to repay the money as long as she doesn’t run again for Congress.

“The House Ethics Committee has no enforcement authority over her so she has left the whole realm of ethics rules that would apply in this case,” he said. “If she is committed to leaving public service altogether she can just cleanly walk away from this.”

Schmidt, whose congressional district included all or parts of Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties, declined to comment. “I’m not going to comment to you,” she told a reporter before hanging up the phone this week.

The filings also say she holds millions of dollars in assets, mostly in property in the Loveland area.

The legal battle between Krikorian and Schmidt began with a dispute over whether the deaths of more than a million Armenians in 1915 was a “genocide” committed by Turkey. Schmidt refused to support a resolution declaring it a genocide. Krikorian, who is Armenian-American, accused her of taking “blood money” from the Turkish government.

Schmidt accepted the offer of legal assistance from two attorneys with ties to the Turkish groups and challenged Krikorian both in a civil lawsuit and before the Ohio Elections Commission. She alleged defamation and making false statements.

The Elections Commission sided with Schmidt in 2009 and reprimanded Krikorian. Schmidt’s attorneys dismissed the civil lawsuit last year.

But Krikorian filed the complaint with the House Ethics Committee, which issued a report in August 2011 saying that they believed Schmidt was unaware the TCA was paying her legal bills. But despite this, “it was in fact improper and constituted an impermissible gift” the committee found.

Krikorian filed the Federal Elections Commission complaint in August 2011. That investigation is ongoing.

“The toothlesness of the House ethics process has been shown,” said Bob Finney, a Cincinnati attorney who represented Krikorian in his dealings against Schmidt. “She took money from those peddling influence from a foreign power to the tune of a half million dollars and never paid any price for it, and the people who enforce ethics in the U.S. Congress think that’s OK.”

Krikorian and Finney still have an open Federal Elections Commission complaint against Schmidt, alleging that the paid legal fees were also illegal campaign contributions.

Holman said the FEC’s jurisdiction does extend to Schmidt after she leaves office. But he said it’s a sharply divided agency and he “would fully expect them to deadlock on a 3-3 vote.”

Finney meanwhile hopes the Federal Elections Commission picks up where he believes the Ethics Committee failed.

“The final chapter has not been written just yet,” he said.

Jessica Wehrman of the Washington Bureau contributed to this report.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Ohio man accused of trying to join ISIS in Syria
Ohio man accused of trying to join ISIS in Syria

An Ohio man is in federal custody, facing charges related to attempting to provide material support to terrorist group ISIS. FBI agents on the Joint Terrorism Task Force on Wednesday arrested Laith Waleed Alebbini, 26, at Cincinnati/Kentucky International Airport. Alebbini was on his way to Syria to join ISIS fighters, the FBI said. Authorities said...
National rabbit show being held this weekend in Springfield
National rabbit show being held this weekend in Springfield

A national rabbit show is being held this weekend in Springfield, bringing hundreds of out-of-state visitors to the area. The American Dutch Rabbit Club 2017 National Dutch Show is being held Friday through Saturday at the Clark County Fairgrounds. Between 35 and 40 states will be represented, organizer Kevin Hooper said. RELATED: Lake events at Clark...
Air Force calls on hackers to find cyber vulnerabilities for a bounty
Air Force calls on hackers to find cyber vulnerabilities for a bounty

The Air Force is looking for a few good hackers. A cyber competition will launch soon to urge computer hackers to find vulnerabilities in Air Force public websites, much as a Department of Defense contest dubbed “Hack the Pentagon” did last year. “We’d like to find out which vulnerabilities are out there that we have not yet...
SBDC plans move to downtown Springfield
SBDC plans move to downtown Springfield

Springfield’s Small Business Development Center will have a new home in downtown Springfield in early June. The SBDC, which provides free training and consulting for area business owners, will move to Clark State Community College’s downtown Brinkman Educational Center on June 1 under a new partnership between the two organizations. The...
Celebrate Astronomy Day this weekend
Celebrate Astronomy Day this weekend

This weekend is Astronomy Day it is celebrated twice a year around the world on April 29.  You can learn more about astronomy at Boonshoft Museum of Discovery. They have an event from noon until 4 p.m. where experienced astronomers will talk about the Sun, moon, and all the night sky has to hold.  Astronomy Day will also be celebrated on...
More Stories