Kentucky’s First District Congressman is defending himself against allegations related to a House ethics investigation. While the committee looking into the matter doesn’t comment publicly about what it’s investigating, Hopkinsville Republican Ed Whitfield addressed the issue on a teleconference with reporters Monday.
Whitfield said the complaint alleges that his wife—who is lobbyist for the U.S. Humane Society Legislative Fund—improperly lobbied him on behalf of legislation he is sponsoring related to show horses. Whitfield’s bill would strengthen the Horse Protection Act and seek the elimination of a practice known as “soring”, where chains and pads are used to conceal irritants that result in horses achieving a high-stepping gait desired in some competitions.
Whitfield denied allegations in the ethics complaint that he only became interested in the issue after his wife began working with the Humane Society in 2011.
“I first started writing letters about the soring issue with Tennessee Walking Horses back in 2004. And I wrote a letter in 2010 before she was ever involved,” Whitfield told reporters.
Whitfield says the ethics complaint was brought by individuals in the performance horse industry who defend the practice of soring.
During his teleconference, the Hopkinsville Congressman also denied allegations in a recent report that he has maintained an improper business relationship with a nationally known lobbyist.
The report by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting showed Whitfield and the lobbyist bought property in the West Virginia resort known as The Greenbrier. The reporter behind the investigation, R.G. Dunlop, joined the teleconference to ask Whitfield questions about the 2002 property purchase.
Dunlop asked Whitfield if he would be willing to release documents related to The Greenbrier land.
“That’s not an issue that we’re discussing today because I haven’t been notified that that’s an issue by the ethics committee," Whitfield replied.
Dunlop followed up by asking if—regardless of whether or not a House committee formally investigated the matter—the Congressman would share with reporters documents “to show exactly who paid what for that property and any associated expenses.”
“At the appropriate time I will,” Whitfield responded. “But I’m not going to release it to you.”