Feds close probe on Pittenger

By: Staff and wire report

RALEIGH — Federal investigators have closed a two-year investigation into U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger’s dealings with his family’s business without filing charges.

Authorities were examining whether Pittenger, who represents District 9 that includes Scotland County, improperly transferred money to his 2012 campaign from his real estate company. FBI agents spoke to employees at Pittenger Land investments and requested information in 2015.

According to the Charlotte Observer, after he was elected to Congress in 2012, Pittenger transferred ownership to his wife, Suzanne, to meet House ethics rules.

Last year, the Pittenger family ended its ties to the company when it handed management over to South Street Partners, a Charlotte-based real estate investment firm, as part of a settlement with investors, the newspaper said.

Lia Bantavani, a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors, said in an email Thursday that the Justice Department’s investigation has ended.

Ken Bell, Pittenger’s attorney, said he was informed on Wednesday of the decision by U.S. Attorney Jill Rose.

“I appreciate the discretion and judgment of the prosecutors and investigators, and particularly Ms. Rose, throughout this investigation. They reached the right decision,” Bell said. “Congressman Pittenger shares my appreciation for their efforts”

The third-term Republican congressman from Charlotte released a statement saying he was grateful the probe was over.

“Suzanne and I are grateful to learn that the two-year investigation by the U.S. attorney is closed,” he said. “We have lived lives of integrity and are grateful to have this behind us. We respect the professionalism of the government in this thorough investigation.”

At Pittenger’s request, the House Ethics Committee launched a probe into whether the company compensated Pittenger in violation of ethics rules. But the committee said at the time that it was delaying any action at the Justice Department’s request.

A committee spokesman didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment Thursday.


Staff and wire report