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The Federal Election Commission has cleared Rep. Jason Chaffetz of allegations that he misused campaign funds for personal gain, as charged in a complaint by Republican challenger Chia-Chi Teng during their bitter primary election campaign.
While the commission said it found "no reason to believe" many of the allegations, it tied on whether to give credence to one set of claims that he violated campaign laws with some hotel stays in Washington, D.C.
Because the six-member commission with three Republicans and three Democrats was evenly split, the FEC wrote Chaffetz that it "closed the file" on the matter.
Teng had questioned the legitimate campaign purpose of hotel rooms in D.C., where Chaffetz often stays with his wife. Chaffetz has said the campaign pays for those rooms only when his wife is in town for a campaign-related event.
The congressman has no apartment or home in Washington, and famously sleeps on a cot in his office.
The FEC said it found "no reason to believe" other allegations, including that Chaffetz charged his campaign for a family Park City hotel stay on Thanksgiving which Chaffetz said never occurred.
The FEC also said it decided to exercise "its prosecutorial discretion" to dismiss an allegation that he was misusing campaign vehicles for personal use.
Teng had charged that Chaffetz never reimbursed his campaign for personal use of campaign vehicles bought with campaign funds that were parked at his house.
About those campaign vehicles, the FEC also wrote, "The commission cautions you [Chaffetz] to take steps to ensure compliance with the [Federal Election Campaign] Act and commission regulations."
"It was a silly attempt to unrighteously draw attention," Chaffetz said about Teng's complaint. "It was false, but they knew full well it would take well past the election to get a final ruling. These are the types of things that make good people not want to run for office."
Teng filed his complaint in April, two months before their June primary which Chaffetz won easily by a 79 percent-21 percent margin.
Chaffetz said the charges did not really affect the election, but he was miffed because "you're attacking someone's personal integrity for your own political game. It's wrong."
Teng could not be reached immediately for comment.
Chaffetz said he was "not surprised in the least" by the FEC deciding to clear him. "It's unfortunate we had to go through this but no surprises here."