In a press release Thursday, the committee said it had found “substantial reason” to be believe that Schweikert had violated House Rules, the Code of Ethics for Government Service, federal laws and other applicable standards in relation to campaign finance violations and reporting errors by his authorized campaign committees, as well as the misuse of his Members’ Representational Allowance for unofficial purposes; pressuring official staff to perform campaign work; and his “lack of cantor” and due diligence during the investigation.
“As part of a resolution Representative Schweikert negotiated with the ISC (Investigative Subcommittee), he agreed to admit to all eleven counts in the Statement of Alleged Violations adopted by the ISC, accept a sanction of reprimand and a $50,000 fine, and waive all further procedural rights in this matter provided to him by House or Committee Rule,” the ethics committee said.
The fifth-term Phoenix Republican had been under investigation for two years over allegations that his office misused funds. The violations stretch from 2010 to 2018 and in its report (pdf), the Ethics Committee said the violations it cited “are serious and occurred on a continuous and prolonged basis.”
Perhaps the biggest finding in the committee’s 33-page statement (pdf) of alleged violations is that Schkweirt had paid over $270,000 to a firm whose sole employee is his former Chief of Staff, Oliver Schwab, over seven years, violating the limit on outside income for senior congressional aides.
Schwab resigned the following month after seven years in his position and that same year, he repaid the campaign more than $50,000.
The investigation also found that staff had occasionally paid for Schweikert’s personal expenses, “ranging from hundreds of dollars in babysitting services, to food that was kept in the Congressional office” and consumed by Schweikert for everyday meals.
“In some instances staffers were reimbursed in cash by Respondent, and in other instances they sought Mr. Schwab’s assistance in getting reimbursed and were ultimately paid with campaign funds,” the report said.
At least four members of congressional staff performed campaign work within the congressional office, according to the report, and while Schweikert claimed he was not aware of the work, one staffer was quoted in the report as saying “it would take wilful ignorance and negligence” for him not to have known.
During its investigation, the committee interviewed 18 people, issued four subpoenas and received 200,000 pages of documents. Schweiker, who previously said that he welcomed the investigation of what he claimed was little more than a bookkeeping dispute, also voluntarily answered questions under oath, the panel said.
In a statement released Thursday, Grace White, a spokeswoman for Schweikert, said he wanted to put the issue behind him.
“We are pleased the Committee has issued their report and we can move forward from this chapter. As noted in the review, all issues have been resolved and Congressman Schweikert will continue working hard for Arizona’s 6th District,” she said.