House Ethics Committee Investigating Representatives Cawthorn, Jackson and Mooney
In a statement, the ethics committee noted that announcing an investigation “does not in itself indicate that a violation has occurred, nor does it reflect any judgment on the part of the committee.”
In Cawthorn’s case, all 10 Democrats and Republicans voted unanimously to create a subcommittee to investigate the actions of the embattled North Carolina Republican. The subcommittee is tasked with determining whether Cawthorn “improperly promoted a cryptocurrency in which he may have had an undisclosed financial interest and engaged in an inappropriate relationship with someone employed on his congressional staff,” said said the committee.
Cawthorn denied wrongdoing, but that wasn’t enough for GOP voters who rejected him serving another term after citing his immaturity. He broke the law for carrying a weapon at the airport and traffic violations.
The announcement comes after a super PAC this month formally called for Cawthorn to be investigated for seven possible breaches of House ethics rules. Sen. Thom Tillis (RN.C.), one of his top critics, also last month urged the Ethics Committee to determine whether Cawthorn had engaged in cryptocurrency insider trading involving a sentence which is the code of a profane expression against President Biden.
The Ethics Committee met this month to discuss misdemeanor charges filed against Cawthorn in North Carolina for several instances of speeding and driving with a revoked license. The panel ultimately decided not to take any further action on this matter, noting that “the local authorities’ handling of this matter is sufficient”. He did not say on Monday whether his launch of an investigation into the other two allegations was in response to requests from Tillis and the super PAC.
The investigation would likely continue until the end of the term, when Cawthorn would revert to private life. It could end before then if Cawthorn decided to step down early, but that wouldn’t stop the committee from publishing its findings.
In Jackson’s case, the Texas Republican’s campaign committee “reported campaign expenses that may not be legitimate and verifiable campaign expenses attributable to good faith campaigning or political purposes,” the official said. Congressional Ethics Office recommending that the matter be further investigated.
The Federal Election Commission prohibits the use of campaign funds for memberships in country clubs and similar organizations. There are “substantial reasons to believe” that Jackson used his congressional campaign funds to “pay for unlimited access to the Amarillo Club, a private restaurant located in Amarillo, Texas,” the OCE said.
A lawyer for Jackson maintained that the congressman’s use of the facility was solely for campaign purposes.
“Neither Congressman Jackson nor any member of his family used Amarillo Club benefits other than dining and meeting spaces for campaign purposes,” attorney Justin R. Clark said in a statement. a letter to the Congressional Ethics Office in January. “As a result, all of the expenditures at issue were made by Texans for Ronny Jackson for campaign purposes.”
The House Ethics Committee also released a report on Mooney, who this month won the first GOP nomination race for West Virginia’s 2nd congressional district.
The report said the committee would continue to examine several allegations against Mooney, including that he may have accepted a “free or below-market value trip” to Aruba, used a campaign vendor’s property in Washington as free source of lodging, converted campaign funds to personal use, and pressured congressional staffers to run personal errands for his family.
Mooney’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The committee investigated a March 2021 trip Mooney took with his family to Aruba, where they stayed at the Ritz-Carlton and had nearly all of their accommodation, meals, beverages and amenities paid for by HSP Direct, l one of Mooney’s campaign vendors. According to the report, HSP Direct’s payout for the Mooney family’s vacation was nearly $11,000, “included private poolside cabanas, tours and activities, and at least one banquet.” , and “probably constituted a prohibited gift under house rules”.
Mooney also appeared to pay for his flight back to the United States with campaign funds, which would have violated campaign finance laws, and he likely violated both House rules and the law. federal government by enlisting his congressional staff to plan his family’s vacation to Aruba. at the official time, found the committee.
According to the report, Mooney refused to cooperate with the examination by withholding travel-related documents. However, the Ethics Committee was able to obtain documents and testimonials from HSP Direct and former and current Mooney staff on its own.
“[T]o to the extent that he asserts that the gift was permitted under a personal friendship or hospitality exception to the gift rule, those exceptions would not apply here,” the report states. “Instead, it appears it wasn’t until after 2020, when Rep. Mooney began paying HSP Direct tens of thousands of dollars for campaign services, that he and his family were asked to join. such a trip. Based on the foregoing, the Commission finds that there are substantial reasons to believe that Representative Mooney accepted inadmissible gifts.
The committee also investigated Mooney’s use of a home near Capitol Hill owned by HSP Direct where the lawmaker stayed for free about 20 times between 2015 and 2021, and where Mooney’s wife and children also stayed. stayed during their visit to Washington. Additionally, Mooney and his team reportedly used the “HSP House,” as it was known, to conduct both campaigning and official work, and to hold events for free.
“Given the house’s location on Capitol Hill and the guests who frequent it — namely HSP clients like Rep. Mooney — the house appears to be used for business purposes. Because of this business purpose, Rep. Mooney’s use of the home likely does not qualify for the personal hospitality exception to the gift rule,” the committee wrote in its report.
The report also included interviews with former and current staffers in Mooney’s office who said they were frequently asked to perform ‘unofficial duties’ for him and his family, which would also be a violation of the rules. on gifts from home in the form of “unpaid personal services”. junior staff.
“Duties ranged from babysitting, to auto repair work on personal vehicles, to assisting Rep. Mooney and his wife with their personal finances and businesses. Staffers were almost never paid for this work and often had to divert time from campaigning or official congressional business to perform these tasks,” the committee wrote in its report, adding that while some staffers are volunteering for certain tasks, employees “more often reported feeling pressured to comply with Mooney family demands or risk angering Rep. Mooney and potentially losing his job.”