CREW Calls For Fossella Ethics Probe

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) on Monday asked the House Ethics Committee to open an investigation into whether or not embattled Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) broke House rules while pursuing a romance on a tax-payer funded trip to Europe.

Fossella was thrust into the spotlight after he was arrested for drunken driving on May 1. In the aftermath of his arrest, Fossella admitted to having an extra-marital affair with Lt. Col. Laura Fay and that the two have a 3-year-old daughter together.

The New York press pounced on the story, reporting several stories alleging that Fossella and Fay's relationship began during a 2002 congressional trip to Europe. Fay was serving as an Air Force liaison officer at the time, often traveling on congressional delegations.

"In the summer of 2003, Rep. Fossella took part in another congressional trip to Europe, during which the affair became obvious to other attendees," CREW said in a statement.

According to House rules, "A member's travel must be in connection with the individual's duties as an officeholder and do not create the appearance that the individual is using public office for private gain."

The Ethics Committee is not required to follow up on outside requests for investigations, a fact that does not always sit will with CREW's Executive Director Melanie Sloan, especially for case's like Fossella's.

"Having an affair is one thing, conducting it at taxpayer expense is quite another," said Sloan. "If that's what happened, the Ethics Committee should hold [Fossella] accountable."

"On the other hand, counting on the Ethics Committee to take action is like waiting for Godot."

Fossella has yet to announce whether he will resign, retire or run for reelection in November.