FOND DU LAC, Wis. — U.S. Rep. Tom Petri is taking the unusual step of requesting an ethics investigation into his own stock portfolio.
The Fond du Lac Republican is responding to a media report that drew a link between companies that have business before Congress and the amount of stock he owns in those companies.
Petri wrote a letter to the House ethics committee defending his actions and asking it to review the matter.
"My investments have been reported in annual disclosure forms submitted to you and on public file," he wrote in the letter dated Sunday. "My actions as a stockholder are no different than any other stockholder based solely on public information,"
His letter also included photocopies of a number of articles produced this month by Gannett Wisconsin Media's Washington bureau.
One article reported that Petri bought hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of stock in Oshkosh Corp. and then pressed colleagues to help the company retain a $3 billion military contract and avoid Pentagon cuts.
A second report said Petri and his wife own shares worth between $65,000 and $100,000 in a timber company that's pushing for a bill currently before Petri's transportation subcommittee. The bill would increase weight limits for trucks on federal highways, a move that would allow the company to load more timber on each truck.
The reports prompted a nonpartisan watchdog group to call for an investigation. Washington-based Craig Holman said the arrangement created an obvious conflict of interest, and he said the Office of Congressional Ethics needed to look into the issue.
"This is not just benefiting a major campaign contributor, this is going into his own pocket," Holman told Gannett Wisconsin Media.
Petri spokesman Lee Brooks said the congressman frequently checks with the Ethics committee for guidance and that he strictly adheres to the committee's advice.