Gubernatorial candidate Rep. Jim Gibbons has asked the House ethics committee for an opinion on whether he improperly reported a Caribbean cruise that was paid for by a software entrepreneur with military contracts.
Gibbons sought the advice Wednesday, following a news report that raised questions about his ties to businessman Warren Trepp, Gibbons campaign manager Robert Uithoven said.
If the committee recommends Gibbons amend his disclosure reports, he will, Uithoven said.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Gibbons, a Republican, opened doors in Washington for Trepp's eTreppid Technologies, a company with millions of dollars in classified federal software contracts from the Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and the Central Intelligence Agency.
The Journal reported that Gibbons, who has served on the Intelligence and Armed Services committees, helped eTreppid secure federal contracts, some of which were not disclosed publicly for security reasons.
Trepp and companies connected to him have contributed nearly $100,000 to Gibbons' campaign for governor, and Trepp hosted Gibbons, his wife and others on a weeklong Caribbean cruise in March 2005. Also, a former eTreppid executive who is suing Trepp alleges that Gibbons got unreported gifts of cash and casino chips from his former boss.
Gibbons and Trepp deny unreported payments and said there was
nothing improper about the Caribbean trip, Trepp's campaign contributions or his efforts to arrange meetings in Washington for
Gibbons said eTreppid won business on its merits and that he had
nothing to do with any classified contracts.
"My connection was to get people to evaluate the technology," Gibbons said. He described Trepp as a longtime friend and "like a younger brother to me."
Trepp, 56, was once chief trader for Michael Milken at Drexel Burnham Lambert, which collapsed in 1990 following a criminal investigation into junk bond abuses.
Gibbons, 61, is locked in a tough gubernatorial battle with Democratic state Sen. Dina Titus. His double-digit lead in earlier polls has shrunk since a cocktail waitress accused him of assaulting her after a night of drinking last month in Las Vegas. Gibbons has denied any impropriety. Police are investigating.
Uithoven said the congressman supports developing Nevada-based
businesses and has been a strong supporter of defense technology.
Trepp told the Journal, "Given my long-standing personal relationship with Jim and his position on the Intelligence Committee, it was natural for me to show him our technology."
Gibbons' wife, Dawn, said she gave a $1,654 check to Trepp's wife to help pay for the Caribbean trip, and put $1,508 on her credit card for a week of on-board expenses. An agent for the cruise line estimated the cost of a comparable cruise for a family of three at more than $10,000, excluding airfare, the Journal reported.
Uithoven said Wednesday the Gibbonses had paid the full amount
requested by their hosts.
Federal ethics rules require a public disclosure by members of Congress when they receive gifts or make reimbursements. Gibbons
said he believed the cruise was an exception because he and Trepp
are longtime friends.