Former Sanchez Aide Under Investigation

May 24, 2008

Authorities are investigating whether a former executive assistant in the U.S. House misappropriated thousands of dollars to finance a vacation and personal items, as part of a widening effort to determine whether congressional accounts are inadequately monitored, according to two sources familiar with the inquiry.

At issue in the ongoing probe by the House inspector general is the role of a former assistant to Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), said the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is not yet complete. The aide, whom Sanchez says was dismissed, reimbursed the lawmaker by nearly $10,000 around the same time that her work for Sanchez ended, according to congressional records.

Caroline Valdez made a series of four unusual payments to her boss’s office at the end of 2006, according to disbursement books maintained by the clerk of the House. Two of those transactions were labeled “reimb: payment error.” Valdez did not respond to several cellphone messages seeking comment.

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(Carrie Johnson and Paul Kane, “Former Aide is Under Investigation,” The Washington Post, 5/24/08)