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The Steuben Courier Advocate
  • Reed responds to ethics concerns raised in newspaper story

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  • U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, is on the defensive about last week’s article by the Buffalo News that raised questions about whether he may have violated House ethics rules because his Corning law firm continued to operate under his name for several years after he took office in November 2010.
    According to the Buffalo News, Reed’s law firm - which focuses on medical debt collection - continued to file cases in 2011 and 2012 under his name, apparently against House ethics rules and American Bar Association rules.
    The Buffalo News articles also notes that Reed’s law firm is named on his most recent financial disclosure statement and that the firm’s registration was still listed as active with the state Department of State as of last Friday.
    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brought the Buffalo News article to the attention of other media outlets in Reed’s 23rd Congressional District.
    The campaign of Ithaca-area Democrat Martha Robertson, who is challenging Reed for his seat, also seized on it, releasing a statement calling it “yet another questionable situation.”
    Monday, Reed spent most of his weekly teleconference with reporters from across the 23rd District answering questions about the situation.
    He called it a personal attack by his opponents, and said it was not what it appeared to be.
    “We have nothing to hide,” Reed said.
    Reed hasn’t practiced law since he took office, but it takes a long time to go through the legal process involved with divesting himself from his law firm - especially since it involved about 30 employees as well as real estate holdings, he said.
    “It’s not as simple as it seems to be,” he said. “You can’t just get elected one day, and then the next day wind things down.”
    He also said he hired an outside attorney to handle the process who has worked with the House Ethics Committee on the matter. Asked why it has taken so long, Reed said the process was almost done, but there wasn’t a set time limit under House rules.
    Reed’s outside attorney, Joe Rizzo of Gallo and Iacovangelo in Rochester, released the following statement:
    “Tom ceased the practice of law upon taking office. As outside counsel we proactively sought guidance from the Ethics Committee and worked with him to dispose of the firm’s assets so that it could be dissolved in accordance with the ethical guidelines - a process which is nearly complete.
    We have been fully transparent with the committee and in Tom’s disclosures throughout the entire process. Any suggestion that we have not acted appropriately within the ethics laws at every turn is inaccurate and without legal merit.”

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