The House Ethics Committee has released information on an expanded list of allegations against Rep. David Schweikert. The Arizona Republican is under investigation by the panel, which made public a second referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Under House Ethics rules, the committee is required to release OCE referrals one year after they are sent to the House.
The OCE previously found “substantial reason” to believe Schweikert authorized expenditures from his Members’ Representational Allowance, or MRA, that his former chief of staff, Richard Oliver Schwab Jr., made outside the scope of permissible official expenses.
The new OCE report includes allegations that Schweikert may have received gifts or loans from a congressional employee that were later reimbursed from his official office account.
The latest allegations — which the office submitted to the House Ethics Committee last September — prompted the panel to expand the scope of its inquiry. The report shows that the OCE board voted unanimously to recommend an expanded inquiry into Schweikert.
OCE is an nonpartisan entity that reviews allegations of misconduct involving House staff and lawmakers and refers cases to the House Ethics panel. The office has jurisdiction to investigate alleged violations of a “law, rule, regulation or other standard of conduct.”
In December 2018, House Ethics voted unanimously to expand the scope of its inquiry into Schweikert to include allegations that he may have used official resources to benefit his campaign and omitted required information from his annual House financial disclosure statements and Federal Election Commission candidate committee reports.
Additional allegations the committee is reviewing include claims that Schweikert:
- pressured congressional staff to perform political activities
- “authorized compensation to an employee who did not perform duties commensurate with his House employment,” which is what the committee has used to refer to off-the-books settlements settlements in the past
Another OCE report released in June included findings that Schwab used official funds on a six-day trip to Arizona in which he attended Super Bowl XLIX. Separately, he is alleged to have made impermissible contributions to his boss and received income beyond the House’s outside earned income limit for his position.
Schwab resigned in July 2018.
Schweikert told CQ Roll Call in June that he expected everything to be cleared up with House Ethics in September or October. He also said he would “absolutely” run for reelection.
Schweikert is already a Democrat target heading into 2020. He won a fifth term last year by 10 points in a district President Donald Trump carried by a similar margin two years earlier.
But the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is eyeing his increasingly suburban and well-educated district in the Phoenix area as a pickup opportunity.
Democrat Hiral Tipirneni, who ran unsuccessfully in the neighboring 8th District in 2018, is bidding to challenge Schweikert next year.
Simone Pathé and Chris Marquette contributed to this report.
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