WASHINGTON DC - Political consultant and former Blagojevich aide Doug Scofield may catch another scandal break, as a House ethics panel announced Monday they would continue investigating Scofield's connections with U.S. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, but would not step up the probe to a special investigation level.
That news means Gutierrez is likely not to be reprimanded or censored for the $590,000 in taxpayer funds he paid Scofield over the past several years for his political consulting - a break for Scofield, who's been in hot water before.
“Today's announcement by the Committee reveals that it will not convene a special ethics panel. As the Committee reviews this matter, Congressman Gutiérrez and his office will continue to cooperate fully. As the Committee points out, its review does not indicate that any violation has occurred or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee," Gutierrez spokesman Doug Rivlin said in a statement.
In addition to his work for the Democratic congressman, Scofield has represented clients in his communication and lobbying practice, including some for whom Gutierrez has sought federal aid. Scofield is also the co-author of Gutierrez's memoir scheduled for release this fall, according to promotional materials for the book, USAToday.com reported in March.
Scofield was a key witness in the federal trial that sent former Governor Rod Blagojevich to prison. Scofield was one of Blagojevich's insiders, and testified how Blagojevich wore him down to become a political yes man. While prosecutors said secretly recorded conversations showed Scofield agreeing with Blagojevich, he insisted he simply placated in order to keep his job.
Gutierrez stepped in to help Scofield after the Blagojevich trial, and while the ethics panel has been investigating their relationship, Monday's announcement indicated that the panel is likely to give both Gutierrez and Scofield a pass.