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Rep. Shuster Target of Influence Buying Probe

September 10, 1997| From The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Rep. Bud Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is the target of a federal investigation to determine whether Boston businessmen attempted to buy his influence over a huge federal highway construction project, federal officials said Tuesday.

Subpoenas for records relating to Shuster's activities were delivered last week to the transportation panel, the House Ethics Committee and the chief administrative officer of the House. Under congressional rules the receipt of the subpoenas was announced publicly.

Federal prosecutors in Boston are investigating Shuster's relationship with at least two Boston businessmen who had long legal disputes over land that was taken for the $10-billion Central Artery project, commonly known as the "Big Dig," according to federal officials.

A grand jury in Boston had previously gathered evidence related to campaign contributions from the businessmen but has recently expanded its scope to include allegations that business deals were made with the son of Ann Eppard, a longtime congressional aide to Shuster, to win the chairman's help in settling the land disputes, officials said.

A federal official familiar with the probe said that issuing the subpoenas to the congressional offices was an indication that the investigation, underway since early this year, has entered a critical stage.

Shuster could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and his office has had no comment about the probe or the subpoenas.

One GOP aide complained that "you've got an overly aggressive U.S. attorney" and that the case has been "strung out" for months.

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