House

Ethics panel reviewing Rep. Ronny Jackson’s campaign spending

Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) leaves a press conference on Tuesday, August 31, 2021 to discuss holding the Biden administration accountable for the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Greg Nash

The House Ethics Committee on Thursday said it is reviewing allegations that Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) may have violated ethics rules.

The committee’s chairman, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), and top Republican, Rep. Jackie Walorski (Ind.), said in a statement that the panel has extended its review of Jackson after receiving a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent watchdog, in late December.

The statement from the House Ethics Committee did not detail the allegations against Jackson.

But a spokesperson for Jackson said that the review concerns his campaign finance activities and that the former White House physician-turned-lawmaker has cooperated with the investigation.

Jackson’s office also accused the OCE, which investigates allegations of misconduct by members of both parties, of being a “partisan” and “liberal” group.

“The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) is a partisan group known for pursuing frivolous witch-hunts. Despite this, Congressman Jackson cooperated fully with OCE by providing detailed explanations regarding questions they had about his campaign finance report,” the Jackson spokesperson said.

“As a strong voice for conservative values, Congressman Jackson is regularly the target of liberal groups like OCE. Nonetheless, he understands that the Ethics Committee had a duty to acknowledge it is looking into the OCE’s claims as defined by House Rules. Congressman Jackson has nothing to hide and will continue his cooperation,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson would not further specify what questions the OCE had about Jackson’s campaign finance activities.

Jackson, who served as White House physician under former Presidents Obama and Trump, is in his first term in Congress.

Trump nominated Jackson to serve as secretary of Veterans Affairs in 2018. But Jackson ultimately withdrew from consideration after allegations of misconduct emerged, including accusations he drank on the job, sexually harassed a female subordinate and casually dispensed prescription drugs.

A Defense Department inspector general report released last year further alleged that Jackson belittled subordinates and took Ambien on long flights while he was on duty. Jackson has denied the allegations.

The OCE investigates allegations against House members and then makes referrals to the House Ethics Committee if it believes allegations merit further review.

The House Ethics Committee is required to either make the OCE report public or vote to extend a review of the matter and disclose its decision.

The public release of an OCE report can be further delayed if the Ethics Committee decides to launch a formal investigation of a lawmaker’s alleged misconduct. But the OCE’s findings must be released by the end of the investigation.

The OCE can only make referrals or recommendations to the House Ethics Committee. The House Ethics Committee has the sole authority to determine whether any punishment, such as fines, are warranted if it concludes that a lawmaker violated ethics rules.

Tags House Ethics Committee Jackie Walorski Office of Congressional Ethics Ronny Jackson ronny jackson Ted Deutch
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