U.S. Representative David Schweikert (AZ-D6), a Fountain Hills resident, remains under the shadow of a Congressional ethics probe into the activities of his former chief of staff.
The Office of Congressional Ethics released a lengthy report last week with more details of its investigation into Richard Oliver Schwab, Jr., Schweikert’s chief of staff until his resignation in July 2018.
The latest report alleges that Schwab used “official funds” totaling more than $6,000 for a six-day trip to the Super Bowl in Arizona in 2015. It states that several of Schwab’s family members were along on the trip, in which he held only a brief meeting related to government business.
Schweikert attributes the trouble to an accusation by a “disgruntled former employee.” However, ethics officials have voted to expand the investigation on two occasions since the original complaint.
“This has weighed really heavy on me and I’m sorry there was a fired employee who was so angry, but I think as we go through this, if we’ve made a mistake we’ll fix it, but I can’t imagine there was anything intentional,” Schweikert told the Arizona Republic.
Schweikert said he would absolutely be running for re-election next year. There are three Democrats indicating they will run in the primary for the chance to challenge Schweikert in 2020.
The investigative subcommittee (ISC) looking into the ethics complaint was initially charged with looking into whether Schwab may have used or authorized expenditures from Schweikert’s Members’ Representational Allowance for improper uses; whether Schweikert’s campaign committee may have received improper campaign contributions from Schwab and other individuals employed in his congressional office; whether Schwab received compensation in excess of an income limit for senior staff and whether Schwab failed to file complete disclosure statements as required by House rules.
In September 2018 the Office of Congressional Ethic referred additional information to the ISC for investigation.
The initial investigation is based on a complaint filed in early 2018 by a Democratic activist from Scottsdale.
On Dec. 20, the House Ethics Committee released a letter outlining additional allegations to be included in the inquiry, including whether Schweikert violated the Code of Conduct or any laws, rules or regulations in performance of his duties.
These allegations include Schweikert possibly using official resources to benefit his campaign or pressuring staff to perform political activity; Schweikert may have authorized compensation to an employee who did not perform duties commensurate with his House employment; Schweikert or his campaign committee may have received loans or gifts from a congressional employee; and Schweikert man have omitted required information from his annual House financial disclosure statements and Federal Election Commission Candidate committee reports.
The statement from the committee notes that “the mere fact of an investigation into these allegations does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred.”
The committee makes no public comment except in accordance with committee rules.