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The allegations

The House of Representatives Committee on Standards and Official Conduct –– commonly known as the House Ethics Committee –– recently conducted an inquiry into whether or not Rep. Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, used his influence to benefit one of his own real estate developments.

Shuler has held an ownership stake in a lakeside real estate development in East Tennessee since prior to his election to Congress in 2006. The development, called The Cove at Blackberry Ridge, is situated on Watt’s Barr Reservoir but lacked good waterfront access. Developers sought to swap parcels with Tennessee Valley Authority, which manages the lake, to gain better access.

Meanwhile, Shuler sits on the House Transportation Committee’s Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, one of two committees with direct oversight authority over the TVA.

The inquiry was focused on whether or not Shuler used his influence as a member of the committee to push Blackberry Ridge’s application to obtain 145-feet of water frontage. TVA has a long-standing practice of granting land swaps for developers in similar situations.

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