The United States House of Representative's Ethics Panel has blasted Elmer Geinert "Bud" Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, for his ties to a former staff member turned lobbyist. The panel stopped short of calling for a vote of misconduct over his actions, however, as Shuster agreed to admit to five violations of ethics rules.
Shuster, who shepherded the Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) to passage in 1998, called the charges nothing more than "minor violations" of House ethics rules and pled guilty to five violations to put an end to the legal wrangling over the matter. Charges in the panel's 147-page report stem from Shuster's relationship with Ann Eppard, a 22-year veteran of his staff and congressional aide who left to form her own lobbying firm in 1994.
The ethics panel began investigating Shuster in 1996 as complaints arose that Eppard violated the one-year post-employment ban on lobbying her former employer, and that he accepted "illegal gratuities" from some of her clients, such as free lodging and air travel. According to the report, Eppard helped raise $655,000 in 1995 for Shuster's 1996 re-election campaign.