WASHINGTON – Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz.,has admitted to 11 ethics violations related to improper spending and other financial rulebreaking and has agreed to a $50,000 fine, the House Ethics Committee announced Thursday.
As part of the deal, the House will also hold a vote on reprimanding Schweikert, the panel said.
The news deals a blow to the reelection campaign of Schweikert, who has been under investigation since June 2018. The congressman had previously blamed some of the alleged violations on an unintended “clerical screw-up,” but his campaign later shifted course and said Schweikert’s trust in his former chief of staff, whose finances had also come under investigation, had been “grossly misplaced.”
The chief of staff, Richard “Oliver” Schwab, left his position last year.
In a statement, Schweikert’s office did not address any of the alleged violations but said the congressman is eager to move on from the matter.
“We are pleased the Committee has issued their report and we can move forward from this chapter,” Schweikert’s office said. “As noted in the review, all issues have been resolved and Congressman Schweikert will continue working hard for Arizona’s 6th District.”
Schweikert is running unopposed in next week’s Republican primary in Arizona’s 6th District. Four candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination to face him in November; among them, Hiral Tipirneni had a $1 million cash-on-hand advantage over Schweikert as of mid-July, according to the Arizona Republic.
In its report, the Ethics Committee said that its investigative subcommittee, known as the ISC, had unanimously concluded that there was “substantial reason to believe” that Schweikert had “violated House Rules, the Code of Ethics for Government Service, federal laws and other applicable standards.”
The panel added that Schweikert’s alleged rulebreaking was connected to “campaign finance violations and reporting errors by his authorized campaign committees; the misuse of his Members’ Representational Allowance for unofficial purposes; pressuring official staff to perform campaign work; and his lack of candor and due diligence during the investigation.”
The investigative subcommittee found that between July 2010 and December 2017, Schweikert “erroneously disclosed or failed to disclose” at least $305,000 in loans or loan repayments. During that time, Schweikert’s campaign also failed to disclose at least $25,000 in spending and more than $140,000 in donations, and falsely reported $100,000 in expenditures, the panel said.
Additionally, Schwab was found to have spent $270,000 on Schweikert’s campaign, an alleged violation of federal law.
“Accordingly Rep. Schweikert did not act in a manner that reflected creditably on the House,” the panel said in its report.
Schweikert also spent official funds on unofficial and campaign purposes and used campaign funds to reimburse his congressional staffers for personal items, “including food and babysitting services,” over the course of seven years, the ethics report said.
The Ethics Committee said it will introduce a privileged resolution calling for the adoption of its report and a reprimand of Schweikert by the full House.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is backing Tipirneni, called on GOP leaders to strip Schweikert of his committee assignments, describing him as “a man without remorse, who is willing to betray his constituents and American taxpayers for his own gain.”
“The House Ethics Committee’s unanimous findings and the fine imposed on Schweikert are a black mark that will stay on his record until Arizonans summarily kick him out of office in November and instead elect the responsible and transparent Dr. Hiral Tipirneni,” DCCC spokeswoman Sarah Guggenheimer said in a statement.
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The Washington Post’s Elise Viebeck contributed to this report.