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Congressman John Tierney May Face Ethics Probe in Connection to ‘Bookie-Gate’

Written by:
Gilbert Horowitz
Published on:
Aug/04/2012
Congressman John Tierney May Face Ethics Probe in Connection to ‘Bookie-Gate’

Eight-term Massachusetts Congressman John Tierney continues to fight for his political career after it was revealed that three nonpartisan open-government groups want the Democrat investigated by the House Committee on Ethics.

Tierney is accused of failing to publicly disclose more than $200,000 that his wife received while managing a bank account with money that came from her brother’s ­illegal gambling business.

The Congressman’s wife was recently convicted of aiding and abetting with the illegal bookmaking business her husband initially claimed to have no knowledge of but has since backtracked on earlier statements, saying he was aware of the Antigua-run operation but believed it to be legal.   A 442-count federal indictment against Eremian and his brother Daniel alleges the massive gambling ring, Sports off Shore, took in millions of dollars over the past decade. 

Federal disclosure laws require members of Congress to disclose the source of income from a spouse. 

“It was a gift to my wife, so it was not income; it was not reportable,” Tierney said during a July 3 press ­conference.

The three watchdog groups argue otherwise. 

“The whole situation raises serious questions about compliance with the spirit of the law and the ethical obligations of members of Congress,” said ­Stephen Spaulding, staff counsel at Common Cause, a nonpartisan group that advocates for open government. “Certainly one would want to err on the side of disclosure and not get into hair-splitting when it comes to ethical obligations.”

Public records show that Tierney's wife wrote monthly $1000 checks to herself, suggesting the monies in question were salary-based. 

“The idea behind the exclusion for gifts from relatives is that if your brother gives you a Christmas present, you don’t have to report it,” said Bill ­Allison, editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation, a non­partisan group that advocates for transparency in government. “Clearly, getting a regular check over time sounds a lot like income.”

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com

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