WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee said Monday that it is investigating Rep. Alan Grayson, the Florida Democrat who is running for Senate and whose business activities have come under scrutiny for the past several months.
The committee's Republican chairman and senior Democrat said in a joint statement that the panel is reviewing a referral from the independent Office of Congressional Ethics and will decide its next step by April 5.
The statement by Reps. Charles Dent, R-Pa., and Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., did not specify the nature of the allegations. The New York Times and other news outlets have reported that Grayson promoted his international travels, some with congressional delegations, to solicit business for a hedge fund he controlled. Grayson's own aides had advised him to shut the fund down, the news reports said.
A spokesman for Grayson said the congressman is aware of the Ethics Committee's decision to review the case for another 45 days, calling it "a very common occurrence with cases that are referred" by the congressional ethics office, which investigates ethics allegations against House members and makes recommendations to the Ethics Committee.
"The congressman is confident that, should an investigation occur, he will be shown to have acted ethically and within the letter and spirit of all House ethics rules," spokesman Ken Scudder said in an email.
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid has called for Grayson to drop his Senate bid and said that the three-term congressman seems to have "no moral compass." Reid accused Grayson of using his office to unethically promote a hedge fund that until recently had been based in the Cayman Islands.
Grayson, who is running in the Democratic primary to replace Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, has angrily denounced Reid's statements and said he has no plans to drop out of the race.
Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., who is running against Grayson in the state's Aug. 30 primary, said Grayson "has demonstrated a pattern of unethical and reckless behavior, using his elected office to promote his offshore hedge fund." Grayson "owes his constituents an apology for failing to put them first," Murphy said.
A spokesman for Grayson's campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Grayson, a liberal firebrand who has said the Republican health plan was to hope people die quickly, has contended he is the only true Democrat in the race and has taken his own flurry of shots at Murphy.