The House Ethics Committee on Thursday cleared Rep. Lori Trahan of any wrongdoing for transferring $300,000 in loans from her husband to her campaign in 2018.
The first-term Lowell Democrat has argued all along that the loans were from accounts that she and her husband shared as joint property under a prenuptial agreement, so she was not barred from using the money. Candidates are allowed to loan money to themselves, but cannot take loans from other family members.
"The respected House Ethics Committee — made up of Democrats and Republicans — investigated this matter thoroughly and has now unanimously confirmed what I’ve always maintained: that my campaign acted ethically and that these baseless accusations were just politics," Trahan said in a statement Thursday.
The independent Office of Congressional Ethics said in December it believed the loans may have been improper.
But that office only makes recommendations to the Ethics Committee. The committee investigated the matter and said in a report released Thursday “the funds from these businesses that were the source for Representative Trahan’s loans were not separate property, but instead considered to be the Trahans’ joint marital property under the agreement.”
As such, “the Committee found the three loans Representative Trahan made to the Campaign from funds transferred to her joint checking account by her husband, totaling $300,000, did not violate any House Rules, laws, regulations or other standards of conduct.”
The cash transfer originally raised eyebrows because Trahan’s campaign used the money to buy a wave of TV ads days before the 2018 primary election, which she won by about 150 votes in a 10-candidate field.
The Ethics Committee did find — and Trahan has previsouly acknowledged — that some of the accounts in question were not properly reported on the personal financial disclosure forms she is required to file. Trahan filed amended forms after concerns were raised, but the committee concluded that this is not uncommon. "Between 20 percent and 30 percent of all Financial Disclosure Statements reviewed by the Committee each year contain errors or require a corrected statement," the committee report said. "It is also not uncommon for filers to become aware of errors in their Financial Disclosure Statements by members of the media or outside groups who review the statements and other public records."