House Ethics Committee reviewing two GOP lawmakers over campaign finance

House Ethics Committee reviewing two GOP lawmakers over campaign finance
© Greg Nash

The House Ethics Committee revealed Monday that it is reviewing allegations of campaign finance violations against two GOP lawmakers.

The committee announced that it is extending reviews of Reps. Ross SpanoVincent (Ross) Ross SpanoLawmakers honor JFK on 56th anniversary of his death GOP Rep. Ross Spano under investigation by Justice Department House Ethics Committee reviewing two GOP lawmakers over campaign finance MORE (R-Fla.) and Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) and would announce next steps, such as deciding to open formal investigations, by Nov. 14.

ADVERTISEMENT

Spano is under scrutiny for accepting about $180,000 in loans from friends and using it for his congressional campaign as if it were his own money. Campaign finance law allows candidates to loan their campaigns any amount of personal funds, but loans from others are considered campaign contributions and are therefore subject to limits of $2,700 per cycle.

Spano has said he has since repaid the loans.

Huizenga, meanwhile, faced a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint from the Michigan Democratic Party alleging that he misused campaign funds for personal expenses. 

The FEC later recommended a dismissal of the allegations after finding no "reasonable inference" that Huizenga's campaign used campaign funds for personal use, according to The Detroit News.

Huizenga has denied any wrongdoing.

"We have cooperated fully in this process and will continue to do so. This matter is the continuation of a partisan and politically motivated complaint filed by the Michigan Democratic Party prior to the 2018 election that has already been resolved by the Federal Election Commission," said Brian Patrick, a spokesman for Huizenga.  

Spano said in a statement on Monday that the Ethics Committee is reviewing his filings with the FEC.

"I think this is a step in the right direction as I want to ensure my record of transparency and accountability is publicly highlighted. While I have doubts about the timing and motive behind this inquiry, I am confident the process will ultimately lean in my favor," Spano said. 

House Ethics Committee Chairman Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchBipartisan lawmakers condemn Iran, dispute State Department on number of protesters killed Bipartisan lawmakers introduce amendment affirming US commitment to military aid to Israel Ethics sends memo to lawmakers on SCIF etiquette MORE (D-Fla.) and the panel's ranking Republican, Rep. Kenny MarchantKenny Ewell MarchantHouse GOP wants Senate Republicans to do more on impeachment Ethics sends memo to lawmakers on SCIF etiquette Ethics panel investigating Rep. Hastings over relationship with staffer MORE (Texas), said in joint statements on Monday that the referrals or extensions do not "indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the committee."

The Ethics Committee had received referrals from the independent Office of Congressional Ethics in August.

The Ethics Committee also announced earlier Monday that it is extending a review of freshman Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibIlhan Omar responds to 'Conservative Squad': 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' House passes bill that would give legal status to thousands of undocumented farmworkers Biden narrowly ahead in Iowa as Sanders surges, Warren drops: poll MORE (D-Mich.) over accepting a salary from her 2018 campaign.

The FEC allows nonincumbent candidates to pay themselves a salary from their campaign committees if they meet certain qualifications. The rule is meant to help candidates running for office who aren't independently wealthy.

Under the FEC guidelines, candidates can accept salaries until the general election or when they are no longer running for office. But conservative media outlets in March highlighted FEC records showing that Tlaib's campaign paid out $17,500 in salary disbursements after Election Day on Nov. 6, 2018. 

An FEC spokesperson told The Washington Free Beacon in March that a candidate can pay themselves after the general election date for activity that happened up to that date. Tlaib has denied any wrongdoing.

"Representative Tlaib has cooperated completely with the Committee to resolve the referral, which involves the same claims over her publicly disclosed salary during the campaign that conservative groups pressed back in March. Representative Tlaib fully complied with the law and acted in good faith at all times," Tlaib spokesman Denzel McCampbell said.