.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill.
The House Ethics Committee released details Monday of its investigation of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., with the focus on whether he improperly received free rent for decades on a South Side office — something brought to light by a Chicago Sun-Times / Better Government Association investigation last December.
The bipartisan ethics panel also announced Monday it will continue its investigation of Rush, disclosing reports from the Office of Congressional Ethics concluding there was “substantial reason” to believe the free rent amounted to impermissable in-kind contributions, gifts or special favors.
The OCE asserts Rush got a free rent worth $365,040 over 20 years, based on records kept by Draper & Kramer, the real estate management firm employed by the landlord, Lake Meadows Associates.
The OCE started looking at Rush after the Sun-Times reports by Chuck Neubauer and Sandy Bergo that Rush has not reported paying rent for his campaign office for decades. The stories also reported that Rush, who is a minister, used money from his campaign fund for his Beloved Community Christian Church.
Rush told the Sun-Times earlier this year that he believed the OCE probe stems from these stories and that is what Rush told the OCE investigators, according to a transcript of his interview with the investigators, also released Monday.
The OCE determined “there is not a substantial reason to believe” that Rush’s campaign committee violated any rules in making donations to the church or improper payments were made to his son, Jeff Rush, who is employed by the church.
The remaining ethics issue against Rush centers on an office at 3361 S. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. first leased by Rush in 1989, when he was a Chicago alderman. The city of Chicago paid the rent until Rush was sworn in to the House in 1993.
The lease expired in 1990. But Rush never vacated the premises nor paid any more rent but was never evicted.
“Since 1993, Representative Rush has used the office space in varying political capacities and has never paid rent to the landlord,” the OCE concluded.
Rush has been an alderman; 2nd Ward Democratic committeeman; a Democratic Party of Illinois state central committeeman; and congressman.
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