Congressman Poe traveled to Azerbaijan from May 28, 2013 to May 30, 2013 on a trip that was pre-approved by the House Committee on Ethics. Prior to the travel, the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians (TCAE) claimed and disclosed to both our office and the House Committee on Ethics that it was the sole sponsor of the trip. Upon his return, Congressman Poe again disclosed to the House Committee on Ethics information pertaining to the trip.
One year later, the Houston Chronicle contacted our office for a story they were publishing which was the first time we had heard questions raised about the trip. Not only was our office responsive to the Houston Chronicle, we also went a step further by contacting the House Committee on Ethics, self-reporting the allegations raised by the Chronicle to the Committee and requesting that they look further into them.
Six months later, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), a separate entity that can only investigate and refer matters to the House Committee on Ethics, opened its own independent review of the trip. Contrary to the Washington Post’s claims, Congressman Poe did cooperate with the OCE. He produced documents and provided answers to the OCE’s questions. The House Committee on Ethics then requested that the OCE cease its review because it was conducting its own investigation. As a result, we alerted OCE that we were communicating and cooperating directly with the House Committee on Ethics, the official arbiter of House ethics matters.
In its report, the OCE clearly states it did not receive any evidence that the Congressman knew that TCAE was not the sole organizer or sponsor of the travel. The OCE further correctly found that “Representative Poe acted in good faith reliance on information received from the purported trip sponsor and approval from the Committee on Ethics.”
In deference to the Committee’s ongoing investigation, Congressman Poe will not be making any further comment at this time.