'Substantial reason' to think GOP congressman broke campaign rules, per ethics probe

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An investigation into Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) found reason to believe he received improper gifts and failed to properly report his campaign finances.

The House Ethics Committee released a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics on Thursday revealing that Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) may have violated several ethics rules related to pressuring his staff to do campaign work and making improper campaign finance filings.

The recommendations were given to the committee in 2018 and released Thursday in compliance with House rules stating that such reports be made public if recommendations are not resolved within a year.

The report shows that OCE recommended the committee investigate several allegations levied against Schweikert "because there is substantial reason to believe" he acted improperly on several occasions.

The unethical allegations the OCE found substantial include:

  • Rep. Schweikert used official resources for campaign purposes or pressured congressional staff to perform political activity;
  • Rep. Schweikert authorized compensation to an employee who did not perform duties commensurate with the compensation the employee received;
  • Rep. Schweikert solicited or accepted a loan, gift, or other contribution from a congressional employee; and
  • Rep. Schweikert failed to disclose required information in his annual House financial disclosure statements or FEC candidate committee filings.

Schweikert's office downplayed the significance of the newly released documents about alleged unethical practices as "merely a restatement of what has been reported previously," even though new information about the allegations is contained in the OCE report.

Schweikert is a five-term Republican representing Scottsdale and northern Phoenix suburbs. He won reelection in 2018 by just 10 points (55-45) after winning previous races by up to 30 points.

The release of the report sparked renewed concern among Arizona Democrats about Schweikert's fitness for office.

"This new round of allegations from the House Ethics Committee further suggests that Schweikert is a corrupt politician," Herschel Fink, executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party, said in a statement. "Arizonans are ready for new leadership."

"With each new development in these ongoing ethics investigations, we learn more about just how deep the roots of Congressman Schweikert's corruption go," Brooke Goren, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), told the Arizona Republic. "As Schweikert's scandal drags on, hardworking Arizonans are losing confidence in this Congressman's ability to get results for them on key issues like lowering the cost of health care and strengthening our economy."

Schweikert is not the only Republican in Arizona facing ethical troubles. Sen. Martha McSally, who became a senator by appointment after voters chose Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, has faced repeated fines for campaign finance violations.

If the allegations against Schweikert pan out, it seems that Trump's culture of corruption is spreading to Arizona's Republican congressional delegation.

Published with permission of The American Independent.