The tempest over allegations that the re-election campaign of Rep. Tim Bishop, D-Southampton, tried to exchange a favor for a sizable donation last year has once again begun to swirl, after a new report sparked ongoing investigation.
According to the Office of Congressional Ethics, on July 13, a referral was sent to the Committee on Ethics of the United States House of Representatives regarding Bishop.
The report states that in May, 2012 Bishop agreed to help a Sagaponack constituent to obtain necessary approvals for a fireworks display at the individual's home.
"If Representative Bishop sought a campaign contribution from a constituent because of or in connection with his performance of an official act, then he may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law," the report states.
Also, if Bishop did not "take reasonable steps to ensure that his congressional campaign committee operated in compliance with federal campaign finance laws, then he may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law," the document reads.
The document also said the Bishop did not report the correct date on which he received the donation, which the report stated was $5000 from one person and not $2500 from two individuals, more than what is allowed under campaign law.
The Board of the OCE recommended that the Committee on Ethics further review the allegation concerning whether Representative Bishop sought a campaign contribution.
On Wednesday, the Committee on Ethics released a statementsaying it would continue to review the matter and added that "the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee."
Bishop fired back this week: "The report released today confirms that the allegations made against me last summer were politically orchestrated and I am confident that the ongoing review of this matter will show that I acted in good faith to assist a constituent in need."
Back in August, 2012, Bishop also denied allegations that his re-election campaign tried to shake down a wealthy Southampton resident in exchange for a favor.
A story by Politico said Eric Semler, a hedge fund manager, needed help getting a fireworks permit as part of his son's Bar Mitzvah party in late May. With the celebration date fast approaching, he turned to Bishop for help. Bishop's daughter and fundraiser, Molly Bishop, then emailed Semler looking for a campaign contribution, according to the report.
But Bishop said Semler's request and any solicitations from his campaign were in no way connected.
Bishop told Politico, "When we fast-track a passport request, and when people get back from Europe and send me $100 in gratitude, is that coercion? No.”
But Bishop's then-challenger, Republican Randy Altschuler, of St. James, seized on the controversy.
Bishop was first elected to Congress in 2002 when he defeated one-term Rep. Felix Grucci.
His campaign noted that "out of an abundance of caution," Bishop donated the Semlers' campaign contributions to charities that benefit veterans, Long Island 9-1-1 Veterans, Honor Flight Long Island, and U.S. Veterans Motorcycle Club Long Island Chapter.