JOE ‘YOU LIE’ WILSON’S ETHICS PROBLEM…. Rep. Joe Wilson, a right-wing South Carolinian best known for heckling President Obama during a speech to Congress last year, acknowledged this week that he’s under investigation by the House ethics committee. At first blush, the allegations didn’t seem especially serious, and were largely overlooked.

But Wilson may actually have a real problem on his hands.

The congressional ethics investigation of Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., is broader than previously disclosed and goes well beyond his use of $12 in per diem expense money to buy six decorative goblets in Afghanistan last year.

Congressional staff members with detailed knowledge of the probe said ethics investigators are examining Wilson’s unusually high number of foreign trips — at least 30 in the past eight years — and his use of per diem expense money while traveling abroad.

The original controversy was over six marble goblets Wilson bought for $12. The congressman claims to have given the goblets to U.S. troops as gifts, and the whole story didn’t seem especially interesting.

But the ethics probe now appears to be far more expansive, with investigators looking into $100,000 in itemized expenses — which we pay for — during Wilson’s frequent overseas travels. (The costs don’t include the taxpayer-financed expense of sending him abroad in the first place.)

This is unlikely to affect his re-election — Wilson is running for re-election in a pretty conservative district — but it’s a controversy worth watching. Especially if Republicans take the House majority, and Wilson is in a more influential role on the Armed Services committee, it’d be good to know why he racked up so many expenses, and asked us to pick up the tab.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.