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Ethics probe into Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly intensifies

Ashley Murray and Joel Jacobs, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on

Published in News & Features

PITTSBURGH — In the days leading up to a planned layoff of 1,400 steelworkers in Butler last year, U.S. Congressman Mike Kelly and his staff scrambled to secure the Trump administration’s help in protecting the plant’s Cleveland-based owners from cheaper, foreign imports.

As plans were moving forward to shut down AK Steel Butler Works, federal officials quietly contacted the company on April 28, 2020, to say they would look into helping to protect the facility: the last remaining U.S. producer of special steel for the nation’s electrical grid.

It was welcome news to the Pennsylvania lawmaker’s staff who were apprised of the decision — and the canceling of the plant’s imminent closure.

The next day, the Republican lawmaker’s wife, Victoria Kelly, bought thousands of stock shares in Cleveland-Cliffs, the parent company.

The purchase, first revealed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last year, is detailed in a scathing report by an independent panel of congressional investigators, which found “substantial reason” to believe that the congressman’s wife made the transaction based on confidential information picked up by her husband while carrying out his official duties as a member of Congress.

The recommendations by the Office of Congressional Ethics were unveiled on Thursday with interviews, texts and emails that attempt to show Kelly’s knowledge of the Trump administration’s actions, as well as “anomalies” in his wife Victoria’s stock purchase before news of the company’s victory was made public.

 

The report calls on the U.S. House Committee on Ethics to issue subpoenas for both Kelly, of Butler, and his wife, as well as former U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Kelly’s former chief of staff — all of whom did not cooperate in the probe.

In less than a year, her investment would reap anywhere from $42,800 to $142,000, according to a Post-Gazette analysis.

Thomas W. King III, an attorney for Kelly, called the report “fatally flawed” and “noticeably devoid of any evidence of misconduct.”

Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, government affairs manager for Project On Government Oversight, a nonpartisan watchdog group, said the findings and recommendations were an “extraordinary situation.”

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