Questions about a real estate development are swirling around U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler.
Shuler, a Waynesville Democrat, became a partner in the Cove at Blackberry ridge in 2005, the year before he was elected to the House, the Asheville Citizen Times reports. The partnership planned to develop lake-side property after the Tennessee Valley Authority said the property included water access rights.
TVA officials later discovered that the land did not have water access rights, and the partnership sought approval of a land swap with the TVA so a boat dock could be built.
Shuler maintains he had no contact with TVA on the Blackberry Ridge deal until after TVA CEO Tom Kilgore approved an arrangement in June 2008 that provided water access along the reservoir.
TVA's inspector general found "no evidence" that Shuler used his position to pressure TVA on the project, but investigators said Shuler's involvement created the appearance of preferential treatment.
The TVA inspector general's office began investigating whether Shuler had improperly influenced the decision in 2008.
When the decision to approve the land swap was made, Shuler was serving on a House committee that oversees the TVA.
Shuler says he had no contact with the TVA while the swap was being considered. An Inspector General's report on the issue found otherwise.
The House Ethics Committee is looking into Shuler's role. The issue has become ammunition for daily attacks from Republicans.