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With Detention Over, Rep. Kim to Return to District

TIMES STAFF WRITER

His electronic ankle bracelet off and the worst of his sentence behind him, Rep. Jay Kim (R-Diamond Bar) planned to return to his district today for the first time since a judge placed him under home detention two months ago.

Denied by voters the GOP nomination in the 41st Congressional District this month, Kim flies home a lame duck as his historic political congressional career winds to an inauspicious close.

He planned to use the weekend to meet privately with constituents and take care of “personal matters” before flying back Monday in time for House business, a Kim spokesman said. No public events were scheduled.

In 1992, Kim became the first Korean American elected to Congress. This year, he became the first House member to wear a court-ordered surveillance device as partial punishment for campaign finance violations.

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“I think he was relieved that the situation is over,” chief of staff Matt Reynolds said Friday of the detention that confined Kim to traveling only between his Washington-area home and the Capitol.

Kim, who remains on probation, has consistently refused to give interviews since pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charges last year. But Reynolds said the congressman is determined to finish his congressional tenure without missing a House vote.

One goal is to tie up loose ends of the massive public works bill he helped shepherd into law this year, a package that has billions in transportation projects for California. A civil engineer before coming to Congress, Kim made transportation issues his priority and led a task force of California congressional members that helped the state benefit from the pork-laden bill.

“He wants to make sure the ducks are lined up and the money flows properly,” Reynolds said.

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Even as Kim’s term winds down, the House Ethics Committee has yet to conclude its own investigation of his legal case, which could result in additional sanctions.

The rumor mill has been churning for weeks over Kim’s plans once he leaves office at the end of the year. His estranged wife reportedly told the Korean press that the congressman is considering running for president of South Korea--a comment his office dismissed as “incredibly ridiculous.”

“He is a United States citizen, he is proud of that, he is an American by choice,” Reynolds said. “The chances of him running for South Korean president are about as good as my running for prime minister of England.”

Kim, 59, lost his bid for the GOP House nomination to state Assemblyman Gary Miller, who is considered a heavy favorite to win in November in the solidly Republican district. Miller faces Democrat Eileen Ansari.

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