WASHINGTON – Chautauqua County’s Congressman isn’t going to release any correspondence between his attorney and the House Ethics Committee regarding his failure to immediately divest his businesses after first getting elected.
During his weekly conference call with media on Monday, Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning) was asked if he had any plan to release the correspondence, which involves his attorney and house ethics officials discussing Reed’s effort to wind down his law practice and medical debt collection business in 2011 and 2012, following his election in 2010.
Under house ethics rules, a member is not allowed to use his name in a private law firm while serving in office. However, a recent Buffalo News story cited 194 legal documents filed in Corning City Court in 2011 and nine filed in 2012 that used the name of “the Law Office of Thomas W. Reed II PLLC” – an apparent violation of House rules.
Reed’s attorney, Joe Rizzo, had previously told the Buffalo News last week the congressman has nothing to hide and that he would release the communication explaining why the process has taken so long. Rizzo also explained that the divestiture process took longer than expected because there were no buyers for the law firm, and Reed didn’t want to lay off employees.
But despite Rizzo’s reported comments, Reed said the correspondence won’t be released while he is still cooperating with the House Ethics Committee and the independently operated Office of Congressional Ethics.
“We’re working with the ethics committee, have been working with the ethics committee and will continue to work with them,” Reed told reporters. “We’ll cooperate and continue to work with the committee to resolve all these issues and have been trying to resolve them as efficiently and effectively as we can.”
Reed also told reporters that he is not aware that he is under any type of investigation related to the slow process of divesting his businesses. Rizzo’s also told the Buffalo News that members of the House Ethics Committee were advised that the divestiture presented challenges and were satisfied by answers provided some months later. Reed’s brothers now runs the medical debt collection business, and the law firm has been winding down its business.
Reed Criticized for Not Releasing Correspondence
The woman running against Tom Reed in the 2014 election has been critical of the Corning Republican for not being transparent with the process. In the past week, Tompkins County legislator Martha Robertson has called for the congressman to release the documents.
Meanwhile, Robertson herself is under fire by Republicans in Tompkins County, with the party chairman filing a complaint with the New York State Board of Elections. He’s accusing her of distributing a fundraising email that claimed “GOP ops” were trying to shut down her web site. The claim has not been substantiated.
However, Robertson’s campaign is accusing Republicans of a “desperate smokescreen” to distract the public from problems Reed is currently facing and pointed to his allowing a law firm controlled by his family to use his name while he was still in office. On Monday, Reed called that accusation “out of bounds” and said it represented an attack on his family members.
“That’s just not something that I find acceptable,” Reed said. “It’s just very troublesome to see a candidate trying to get into office by attacking someone’s family. To me, it’s not right. It’s wrong and I hope she reconsiders doing that.”