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House Ethics panel recommends $50,000 fine for Rep. Schweikert's campaign finance violations

House Ethics panel recommends $50,000 fine for Rep. Schweikert's campaign finance violations
© Greg Nash

The House Ethics Committee on Thursday recommended that Rep. David SchweikertDavid SchweikertHouse GOP proposed rules change sparks concern Next Congress expected to have record diversity Embattled Schweikert beats back Democratic challenge in Arizona MORE (R-Ariz.) be fined $50,000 and formally reprimanded by the full chamber for violating campaign finance rules and misusing official resources for his reelection efforts.

Schweikert negotiated a resolution with Ethics Committee investigators in which he agreed to admit to all eleven counts of misconduct as well as accept a formal sanction and $50,000 fine, according to a joint statement from House Ethics Committee Chairman Ted DeutchTheodore (Ted) Eliot DeutchDemocrats elect Meeks as first Black Foreign Affairs chairman Passing the Seniors Fraud Prevention Act will help protect elderly from criminals Overnight Health Care: CDC panel recommends who gets vaccine first | McConnell offering new relief bill | Hahn downplays White House meeting on vaccines MORE (D-Fla.) and the panel's ranking Republican, Rep. Kenny MarchantKenny Ewell MarchantRepublican Van Duyne wins race for Texas House seat Cook Political Report shifts 8 more House races toward Democrats Democrats seek wave to bolster House majority MORE (Texas).

Deutch and Marchant said that the committee plans to bring a resolution for a vote by the full House to formally reprimand Schweikert for his actions.

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A Schweikert spokesperson said that the lawmaker is looking to "move forward" from the ethics investigation.

"We are pleased the committee has issued their report and we can move forward from this chapter. As noted in the review, all issues have been resolved and Congressman Schweikert will continue working hard for Arizona’s 6th District," a Schweikert spokesperson said.

An investigative report released by the Ethics Committee concluded that Schweikert, who has served in the House since 2011, violated campaign finance laws, misused taxpayer funds for unofficial purposes, pressured congressional office staff to do campaign work and displayed a "lack of candor during the investigation."

 

The report said that between 2010 and 2017, Schweikert's campaign committees erroneously disclosed or failed to report at least $305,000 in loans or loan repayments; did not report at least $25,000 in campaign spending; did not report more than $140,000 in campaign contributions; and falsely reported making payments totaling $100,000.

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Schweikert's former chief of staff improperly made purchases over $270,000 that were reimbursed by the campaign between 2011 and 2018. Congressional staff are not allowed to make contributions to the campaigns of lawmakers for whom they work, and some purchases can be considered contributions even if they are reimbursed.

"Representative Schweikert knew or should have known that [his chief of staff] made substantial purchases on behalf of his campaign, but did not prevent the practice," the report stated.

The report also found that at least four of Schweikert's congressional aides paid for personal items for the lawmaker, including food and babysitting services, that were later reimbursed by the campaign.

Another of the violations outlined by the Ethics Committee included Schweikert's campaign falsely reporting that he had loaned the campaign $100,000 and then reporting that the amount had been spent, "which served to adjust the campaign’s reported cash on hand that was propped up by the fictitious loan."

It further stated that Schweikert "made vague or misleading statements" to the Ethics Committee and Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent entity that investigates allegations of lawmaker misconduct and makes referrals to the House Ethics Committee. The committee also added that Schweikert's document productions were "slow or non-responsive" and that he "gave self-serving testimony that lacked candor."

The recommendation to sanction Schweikert comes after more than two years of investigations. The OCE first sent referrals to the House Ethics Committee in 2018 to further review allegations that Schweikert may have misused House resources and failed to comply with campaign finance rules.