Aide denies Thompson charges

The chief aide to House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson on Friday denied an allegation that Thompson used his committee’s consideration of expensive new rules on credit card companies to extract campaign contributions from the companies.

Lanier Avant, staff director of the committee as well as chief of staff in Thompson’s office, said the allegations, reported in The Washington Post, were “baseless” and said he is unaware of any probe of the panel’s activities or Thompson by the House ethics committee.

The Post reported that Thompson collected $15,000 in campaign donations from credit card companies and their lobbyists after the March hearing. No legislation on the credit cards was introduced, according to the Post.

“The way we handle the business of the committee is in line with every federal law and doesn’t violate any ethics guidelines,” Avant said in an interview with POLITICO. “We know where all the problem spots are and steer clear of them.”