Watchdogs Want Ethics Investigation of House Dem.

Rep. John Tierney / AP

A veteran Democratic congressman failed to disclose money accepted from his fugitive brothers-in-law, a move three government watchdogs are now questioning.

Massachusetts Rep. John Tierney’s wife, Patrice, received $223,000 from her brothers, Robert and Daniel Eremian, who were accused of running an illegal offshore gambling website in 2010. Robert has remained on the lam in Latin America, while Daniel is now serving a three year sentence for illegal gambling. Mrs. Tierney served 30 days in jail for overseeing the gambling operation’s U.S. bank account.

The congressman may now face an ethics probe after three government watchdogs discovered that he had not disclosed the six-figure windfall. The New York Times reports:

House rules do not require that members disclose gifts from one relative to another. But Bill Allison, the editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan organization that promotes government transparency, said that even assuming the Tierneys believed the company’s earnings were legal, the payments could plausibly be viewed as earned income, which the House ethics manual defines as "compensation derived from employment or personal efforts," rather than as gifts.

"It sounds like she was regularly drawing money from this account in exchange for services she rendered to the company, so that sounds like income," Mr. Allison said. "It doesn’t sound exactly like a birthday gift."

The allegations have put the heavily Democratic seat in play, according to political observers. Former state Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei (R., Wakefield) has capitalized on the issue. National Republicans have drawn upon Daniel Eremian’s claims that Rep. Tierney knew of the operation to create, a website dedicated to the scandal.

Published under: Congress , Ethics