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Deal's chief of staff reimburses campaign $93,000
Riley apologizes after income found to exceed House rules
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The chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal has reimbursed the Gainesville Republican’s campaign more than $93,000 after he was found to have exceeded outside income under the House of Representative’s rules.

Chris Riley, 39, informed the leaders of the House Committee on Standards of the oversight in a letter dated Wednesday.

"There is an outside maximum that you can receive if you make over $114,000," Riley told The Times. "I had failed to disclose my salary from Nathan Deal for Congress."

Riley learned of the error Wednesday when he was contacted by a reporter for Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, which reported the story in its Thursday edition.

He earned $158,484 in tax dollars in 2006 as Deal’s top congressional staffer. On top of that, Deal’s campaign paid Riley $88,376 for running the congressman’s re-election campaign.

"I had absolutely no intent of trying to keep this from the committee or the public’s view," Riley wrote in a letter to U.S. Rep. Stephanie Jones Tubbs, D-Ohio, and U.S. Rep Doc Hastings, R-Wash. "The oversight of disclosing outside income from the campaign was a complete oversight on my behalf and has been correctly corrected with the help of your counsel."

Riley, who has a current annual salary of $159,000, exceeded the outside limits by $93,202 for the period from 2004 to 2007. The current cap for outside income is $25,830.

"I have repaid Nathan Deal for Congress the entire amount of income I received over the maximum outside income allowed," he wrote in his letter to Tubbs and Hastings.

While the campaign income was not disclosed to congressional officials, the payments were noted in Deal’s reports to the Federal Elections Commission.

Riley said he immediately informed Deal of the situation and began his efforts to come into compliance. A spokesman for the ethics committee said he could not discuss the matter.

It is a common practice among congressional staff to earn additional income from working on campaigns.

The House rules also allow staff members to take leave without pay. While on leave, their campaign income does not apply toward the annual limits of outside income. Riley, who works out of Deal’s district office in Gainesville, said in hindsight he wishes he had taken leave from the congressional office to run the campaign.

Riley has been a member of Deal’s staff for 16 years.