Politics & Government

Rep. Joe Wilson's opponent accuses him of pocketing expenses

Democrat Rob Miller Thursday accused U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson of pocketing more than $38,000 of expense account money for his personal use.

The $38,000 per diem total is part of about $100,000 in travel expenses Wilson has billed taxpayers for since his election to Congress in 2001, making him the 29th highest spender among 435 U.S. House members.

Wilson, a Lexington Republican, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Most of his travel has been to Iraq and Afghanistan visiting U.S. troops. Wilson's travel spending ranks 6th among the 70 members of the Armed Services committee

Wilson denies any wrongdoing.

"That's not true at all," Wilson said Thursday, responding to the charges levied by Miller.

Wilson is the subject of a congressional probe into his travel spending. Congressional staff members with specific knowledge of the probe have told McClatchy journalists ethics investigators are pouring over the 30 foreign trips Wilson has taken over the past eight years and his use of per diem pay while on overseas travel.

Per diem pay is intended to only cover meals and lodging costs. On one of those trips Wilson spent $12 on six goblets, which drew the attention of ethics watchdogs in the Congress.

Wilson, a Republican from West Columbia, acknowledged a few days ago he had been questioned by the Office of Congressional Ethics about his use of per diem expense funds, though he initially claimed the probe only involved $12 of per diem money used to purchase decorative goblets last year in Afghanistan.

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