GOP congressman admits to 11 ethics violations he denied just last year

8354
Advertisement

Rep. David Schweikert said in 2019, 'I believe we've come out clean.'

A report issued by the House Committee on Ethics on Thursday contains the announcement that Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) has admitted that he misused campaign and congressional funds and illegally pressured his office staff to do campaign work. The report notes that he will receive a reprimand and will be fined $50,000.

The committee, a bipartisan panel of five Democrats and five Republicans, launched an investigation in 2018, after the independent Office of Congressional Ethics referred a series of allegations against Schweikert. Months later, it added expanded the investigation to examine additional allegations.

The 11 charges against Schweikert included that he "misused campaign funds for personal purposes by accepting personal items from staff that were reimbursed by campaign funds"; that he used his congressional office's resources, "including official funds, staff time, and congressional office space," improperly "for unofficial and campaign purposes"; and that his congressional staff was "pressured to perform campaign work."

Advertisement

The subcommittee charged with investigating the allegations detailed the 11 violations of House ethics rules in June; Schweikert agreed to admit to all of them and the fine, the Ethics Committee's report says.

But just last year, Schweikert claimed that the allegations against him were false and that he would soon be exonerated.

"I think we're almost there. The light at the end of the tunnel is probably a few months away, at least I hope," he told a local news outlet in April 2019. "So far, they've read through a million some emails. And I believe we've come out clean. At least what we know so far is things look pretty good." He predicted the issue would be "long gone" by November 2020, when he is up for reelection.

Despite the allegations and ongoing investigation, Schweikert's Republican colleagues have stood by him and donated to his reelection race.

This campaign cycle alone, he received donations from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise, Rep. Kevin Brady, Rep. Jim Jordan, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Schweikert first won his House seat in 2010 after touting his "scrupulous ethics" on his campaign website.

After taking office, he claimed he was going to help restore transparency and integrity to Congress. "Our Congress was going to be the most open and the most ethical and it didn't work out that way," he told Congressional Quarterly in August 2011, and he intended to use "a freshman's opportunity to try to help."

In an email on Thursday, a Schweikert spokesperson said, "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."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.