WASHINGTON – GOP Rep. Jerry Lewis of California announced Friday that he'll seek a 16th term, putting to rest speculation that he would retire amid a federal lobbying probe.
"I never seriously contemplated not running again," he said in an interview.
Lewis, 72, was the chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee until Republicans lost control of Congress last year. He is the top Republican on the spending panel.
His talent at securing federal dollars for his inland Southern California district brought him unwanted scrutiny last year when federal prosecutors in Los Angeles began probing his ties to lobbyist Bill Lowery, a former member of Congress whose clients included towns and businesses in Lewis' district.
Lowery's clients benefited from federal dollars approved by Lewis' committee, and Lowery and his lobbying associates and clients donated generously to Lewis' campaigns.
Lewis has denied any wrongdoing, no charges have been filed and there have been no recent public developments in the probe. However, Lewis hired criminal defense attorneys after news of the investigation broke in May 2006. He has paid them hundreds of thousands of dollars, including more than $30,000 in the second quarter of this year.