FBI investigating Congressman Robert Pittenger’s family real estate business

Congressman Robert Pittenger speaks to the media at the conclusion of a town hall meeting in Mooresville on Aug. 11, 2015.
Congressman Robert Pittenger speaks to the media at the conclusion of a town hall meeting in Mooresville on Aug. 11, 2015. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

U.S. Rep Robert Pittenger of Charlotte confirmed Tuesday that federal investigators are looking into his family real estate business, Pittenger Land Investments, but said he was confident that he and the company he once owned have done nothing wrong.

Pittenger said he sold his part in the business 21/2 years ago before taking office as the representative for North Carolina’s 9th district.

His wife, Suzanne Pittenger, is CEO of Pittenger Land Investments. Their son, Robert Jr., had been involved with running the company, but Pittenger said Tuesday that he no longer is part of the firm. He did not say why.

The Republican congressman, who took office in January 2013, said that he and his former company are cooperating with FBI agents who first asked for information in April.

He said he’s not concerned about the federal inquiry.

“All I know is that they’ve asked for information and we’ve gladly turned it over,” Pittenger said Tuesday in Mooresville, after his second of six town hall meetings that he’s conducting around the district. “Everything that’s been done has been done with the greatest integrity and I have no concerns whatsoever.”

Jamie Bowers, Pittenger’s spokesman, said the inquiry has nothing to do with his congressional office or duties.

Pittenger told reporters that he doesn’t know specifics about the information requested. He said such inquiries “are the nature of the business I’m in, but when you live a life of integrity you really don’t worry about it.”

Though Suzanne Pittenger continues to run the company, Rep. Pittenger said he stands to make no money from it. “I sold the business and so I couldn’t gain from it,” he said.

He said the arrangement was approved by the House Ethics Committee and that he’s heard nothing from the committee about the investigation.

A source familiar with the matter said Pittenger Land Investments has proposed selling land it owns to a Florida company called Landeavor, but PLI investors have been upset by the terms of the deal.

Landeavor representatives could not be reached late Tuesday.

In response to a question from the Observer, Pittenger denied the company is for sale. “No, the company is not, but we’re always trying to sell properties for the investors,” he said.

The FBI didn’t release any information about the probe Tuesday. “The FBI can neither confirm nor deny the existence of investigations,” said spokeswoman Shelley Lynch.

Pittenger’s official House of Representatives biography says he moved to Charlotte in 1985 and built his real estate investment company.

The company’s website says that PLI has invested in more than $250 million of undeveloped land in four states, including in the Charlotte region.

Perlmutt: 704-358-5061