Rep. Ross Spano (R-FL) is being investigated by the Justice Department for possible campaign finance violations.
Rep. Ross Spano (R-FL) is under criminal investigation by the Justice Department for alleged campaign finance violations, the House Ethics Committee said in an announcement on Thursday.
The first-term lawmaker has since released a statement suggesting the DOJ investigation may be part of a partisan attack on him by the left.
According to the committee, "On August 16, 2019, the Committee received a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) regarding Representative Ross Spano. ... The Department of Justice has asked the Committee to defer consideration of this matter and the Committee, following precedent, unanimously voted to defer consideration of this matter at this time."
The House Ethics Committee has been investigating the campaign finance issues so far, but according to this week's announcement, that investigation has been put on hold at the DOJ's request.
Spano responded to Thursday's announcement by acknowledging that he had violated the law, but claiming his errors were "completely inadvertent and unintentional." He then suggested that the investigation was somehow a political move intended to hurt him.
"I continue to have doubts about the timing and motive behind this inquiry, as the impeachment proceedings this week have shown me how far the left will go to destroy their opponents," he charged. "I remain committed to the issues that are important to my constituents."
It is worth noting that the Justice Department is currently under the control of Donald Trump's handpicked attorney general, William Barr.
The investigations into Spano center around his 2018 campaign, which he won a by 53% to 47% margin despite being outspent more than two-to-one. More than one-sixth of the roughly $929,000 Spano raised and spent on that race came from what he initially reported as about $170,000 in loans from himself, but were in fact loans from two benefactors.
One of those benefactors reportedly then had a key role in employment decisions as Spano staffed up his congressional office. After local newspaper reports revealed this incorrect filing, Spano corrected his filings in November, denied any intent to break the law, and repaid the loans (after taking out a personal bank loan).
After Florida Democrats filed ethics complains over Spano's filings, the independent Office of Congressional Ethics found "substantial reason to believe that Rep. Spano received improper loans, in excess of federal campaign contribution limits, to support his election to the House of Representatives," a more serious legal violation than just inadvertently submitting a false campaign finance disclosure form.
Officials recommended the House Ethics Committee "further review" the allegation and the bipartisan committee agreed to do so.
Spano made headlines during his time as a Florida state legislature for his bill to label viewing pornography a "public health crisis," and for having favorited porn on Twitter, which he said was "not my doing." Earlier this year, he claimed that climate change was a hoax like "bloodletting."
The House impeachment inquiry committee will hold its second public hearing on Friday. Spano does not serve on any of the committees involved, but has complained about the investigation into Trump and dismissed it as a an "impeachment process in SEARCH of a crime."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.