Swindall Turns Over Tapes to Ethics Committee
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Rep. Patrick Swindall appeared before the House ethics committee on Tuesday and turned over tape recordings of his loan negotiations with a federal undercover agent posing as a money broker for underworld figures.
The committee voted in June to launch a preliminary investigation to determine if Swindall, R-Ga., violated the law or House rules in pursuing an $850,000 home construction loan after being told it likely would be financed with drug money he would be helping to launder.
Swindall’s appearance Tuesday coincided with the primary election in Georgia, where he was unopposed for the Republican nomination for a 3rd term. Three candidates were competing for the Democratic nomination.
Swindall met behind closed doors with committee members for nearly three hours. Afterwards, Rep. Julian Dixon, D-Calif., chairman of the panel, refused to comment on the investigation.
Swindall also refused initially to answer reporters’ questions about the meeting. Later, however, Swindall said he had provided the committee with copies of the tape recordings, a copy of a constituent newsletter which included a ″summary of facts″ about the case, and a copy of newspaper excerpts of the tapes, on which there were handwritten notes detailing parts of the conversations not included in the excerpts.
″All I am doing is turning over information that I promised to turn over to the ethics committee so that they can look into my request, which was that they consider all of the information,″ Swindall said.
Swindall asked for the ethics committee investigation one day after The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution reported details of the loan negotiations that came from conversations secretly recorded during a federal money laundering investigation.
The conversations involved discussions between Swindall and Charles LeChansey, who later was indicted on money laundering charges, and Michael Mullaney, an undercover Internal Revenue Service agent.
Swindall at one point accepted a $150,000 check from LeChansey, but returned it uncashed several days later. The tapes show he broke off the negotiations after Mullaney told him he would have to accept the loan proceeds in cash and sign a receipt for them.
″The only reason I can’t do that is I would then be essentially laundering y’all’s money,″ Swindall told Mullaney on the tapes. ″In other words, if Charles (LeChansey) wants to launder y’all’s money, fine, but I can’t do that and to sign a receipt of cash would be to do that.″
Swindall later apologized at a news conference for his role in the negotiations, saying he was wrong and ashamed but would continue to seek re- election.
Swindall has not been charged in connection with the federal investigation.