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Public Printer Repays $3,145 in Questioned Expenses

December 2, 1991

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Public Printer Robert W. Houk on Monday repaid to the government $3,145 in expenses that had been questioned in a draft report by the inspector general of the Government Printing Office.

Houk acted after a report in The Washington Post said the challenged expenditures included, among other things, Christmas gifts, tickets to the Kennedy Center, travel for his wife and T-shirts for GPO workers.

A government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Houk made the repayment after a review conducted at his request by the GPO’s ethics officer.

In a letter to the congressional Joint Committee on Printing, Houk said he had authorized the expenditures in good faith, believing them to be within his discretion to determine expenses in connection with his responsibilities.

The letter said he had come to realize that others might view the expenditures as not within his discretion, the official said.

The official said Houk authorized the agency’s ethics officer to review all expenditures for fiscal year 1990 and 1991 and determine whether any of them might be construed as inappropriate. Houk reimbursed the government for all the expenditures listed by the ethics officer as questionable, the official said.

The Post said that GPO Inspector General Lewis L. Small had questioned $5,193 of the $6,854 that Houk spent from the agency’s ″representation and reception fund″ between April 1990 and August 1991.

It said the draft report, dated Nov. 1, said investigators had been unable to determine whether the expenditures were ″proper and legal″ because GPO general counsel Anthony J. Zagami declined to assist them.

Houk, Small, Zagami and other GPO officials did not return telephone calls placed to them about the matter. Nancy Guiden, a spokeswoman for the GPO, said it is the policy of the agency not to comment on such draft reports.

According to the Post, Zagtami said his primary responsibility was to advise Houk rather than the investigators.

Houk, 64, a printer from Shelby, Ohio, took over the 5,000-employee office in March 1990. He is an appointee of the Bush administration.

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