Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., was reprimanded and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine by the bipartisan House Ethics Committee on Thursday, after the ethics panel concluded a two-year probe and unanimously found campaign finance violations and other issues.
Schweikert admitted to 11 misdeeds found by the panel’s investigative subcommittee, including pushing staff members to fundraise for his campaign, misusing his Members’ Representational Allowance for unofficial purposes, and demonstrating a “lack of candor and due diligence” during the probe – including giving “untruthful testimony” at points.
At the same time, the committee opted to avoid a more severe sanction or official censure “in large part to the congressman’s willingness to accept responsibility and agreement to pay a substantial monetary fine.”
“Rep. Schweikert did not act in a manner that reflected creditably on the House,” the ethics committee said in a statement.
The finding threatens to further undermine Schweikert’s chances to win in a district carried by President Trump by double-digits in 2016. Democrats have poured money into the district this election cycle.
In its full report, the committee’s investigative arm asserted that Schweikert “failed to take reasonable steps to ensure his campaign committees operated in compliance with applicable laws and standards of conduct, including Federal Election Commission Act (FECA) reporting requirements.
Specifically, between July 2010 and December 2017, Schweikert’s campaign committees “erroneously disclosed or failed to disclose at least $305,000 in loans or repayment of loans made or obtained for the benefit of his congressional campaigns; failed to report at least $25,000 in disbursements made by his campaigns; failed to report more than $140,000 in contributions received by his campaigns; and falsely reported making disbursements totaling $100,000,” according to the report.
“The errors violated FECA’s reporting requirements, House Rule XXIII, clause 1, which requires members to act in a manner that reflects creditably upon the House, and paragraph 2 of the Code of Ethics for Government Services, which requires members to uphold the laws of the United States,” the report said.
Additionally, between January 2011 and July 2018, Schweikert’s former chief of staff “made over $270,000 worth of impermissible outlays on behalf of Rep. Schweikert’s campaign and at least three other members of Rep. Schweikert’s congressional staff made impermissible outlays, totaling less than $500.”
Schweikert “knew or should have known that Mr. [Oliver] Schwab made substantial purchases on behalf of his campaign, but did not prevent the practice. Congressional employees are prohibited under federal law from making contributions to the campaign of their employing member; certain outlays, even if reimbursed, are considered contributions and are thus impermissible.”
Schweikert further “misused campaign funds for personal purposes by accepting personal items from staff that were reimbursed by campaign funds,” the report reads. “Between 2011 and 2018, at least four members of Rep. Schweikert’s congressional staff paid for personal items for Rep. Schweikert, including food and babysitting services, and were then reimbursed for those items by Rep. Schweikert’s campaign.”
Although the panel found other violations, it didn’t conclude that all the allegations against the congressman had merit. The investigative committee unanimously concluded, for example, that “allegations that Rep. Schweikert may have authorized compensation to an employee who did not perform duties commensurate with his House employment and that he or his campaign committee may have received loans or gifts from a congressional employee could not be substantiated.”
In a statement Tuesday, Schweikert’s office didn’t directly address his conduct.
“We are pleased the committee has issued their report and we can move forward from this chapter,” his office said. “As noted in the review, all issues have been resolved and Congressman Schweikert will continue working hard for Arizona’s Sixth District.”