- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 16, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - A government watchdog group on Tuesday asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Republican U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta violated U.S. House rules or federal law.

The complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington follows recent action by the Federal Elections Commission, which found that Guinta accepted $355,000 in illegal campaign donations from his parents for his 2010 campaign. Guinta agreed to repay the money plus a $15,000 fine, but he insists the money belonged to him because for years he contributed to and managed a family pot of money.

The Office of Congressional Ethics is an outside panel that reviews ethics complaints against House members. According to the new complaint, Guinta amended his financial disclosure report to the House Ethics Committee in 2010 to add the family pot bank account but failed to disclose it in six subsequent filings.

“Representative Guinta wants to have his cake and eat it, too,” said the watchdog group’s director, Noah Bookbinder. “When the FEC is investigating whether he received an illegal contribution, he insists the money is his. When it comes time to report that money to the Ethics Committee, he says he doesn’t have to report those funds because they aren’t in his name. Those claims can’t both be right.”

Guinta’s chief of staff, Jay Ruais, dismissed Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington as a left-wing group funded by liberal financier George Soros.

“This is a well-known partisan organization led and funded by individuals whose mission is to attack, demean and destroy Republicans for political purposes,” he said. “Congressman Guinta will continue working on behalf of New Hampshire’s First Congressional District.”

In documents filed with the FEC, Guinta’s lawyer argued that House rules require candidates to disclose only accounts held by the candidate and that his initial decision not to disclose it and his amended form were “reasonable and good faith attempts to comply with the form’s imperfect and ambiguous instructions.”

Guinta was first elected to the state’s 1st Congressional District seat in 2010. He was defeated by Democrat Carol Shea-Porter in 2012 but regained the seat in November.

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