AZ Republic: “Rep. David Schweikert presided over a slipshod office operation with financial oversight so weak that his former chief of staff managed to take home improper, extra pay that violated House ethics rules for years, a newly released investigation found.”
For more than a year, Congressman David Schweikert has been dogged by an investigation into his potentially illegal handling of campaign funding and taxpayer dollars. His ongoing ethics problems have nearly bankrupted his bid for re-election and distracted from his job of representing hardworking Arizonans.
Asked by reporters, Schweikert has repeatedly dismissed the matter as nothing but a “bookkeeping error” – but today, a new 424-page report from the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) contradicted that claim. In fact, Schweikert is becoming increasingly embroiled in multiple ethics investigations that appear to be just heating up. Despite repeatedly saying that he welcomed the investigation, OCE reported that Congressman Schweikert was “non-cooperative” with their investigation and recommended that Schweikert be subpoenaed.
According to the Arizona Republic, Schweikert “presided over a slipshod office operation with financial oversight so weak that his former chief of staff managed to take home improper, extra pay that violated House ethics rules for years.” OCE’s report paints a devastating picture of Schweikert plotting his climb up the political ladder while his chief of staff spent frivolously on items like office supplies, berated subordinates, and took a taxpayer funded trip to the Super Bowl, Phoenix Open, and a Phoenix Suns game in February 2015 that cost taxpayers over $6,000.
Meanwhile, the Republic reports that it is “unclear” when a separate House Ethics Committee investigation into Schweikert will conclude, setting the embattled Congressman up for more potential bombshells as he heads into campaign season.
By Ronald J. Hansen, June 12, 2019
Rep. David Schweikert presided over a slipshod office operation with financial oversight so weak that his former chief of staff managed to take home improper, extra pay that violated House ethics rules for years, a newly released investigation found.
Oliver Schwab may have collected $60,000 in outside pay over three years above what House rules permitted, and attended the 2015 Super Bowl in Glendale — with Schweikert, R-Ariz. — as part of a taxpayer-paid trip that was reported as official business, the report said.
There were other possible sources of income Schwab had that investigators could not examine during the probe that has dogged the five-term Republican congressman and his operations for more than a year.
Neither Schwab nor Schweikert cooperated with the probe, the report by the Office of Congressional Ethics said.
…Beyond the alleged wrongful spending, the 424-page report released Wednesday paints the image of a congressional office simmering with discontent as Schweikert pondered a Senate run — he publicly considered a primary challenge to then-Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. — and as Schwab took out his frustrations with Schweikert on other staffers.
“David was putting increasing pressure on (Schwab) to raise money because David wanted to run for the Senate,” a former deputy chief of staff, unnamed in the report, who did cooperate told investigators. “David was basically telling him, ‘I need a million dollars if I’m going to run for the Senate.’ I think that was weighing on him.”
The former staffer said Schwab said: “I hate David and I hate this job,” according to the report.
Schweikert is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.
…It is unclear when the investigation into Schweikert will conclude.
Neither Schweikert nor Schwab were immediately available. In the past, both have cast the ethics investigations as bookkeeping matters, not scandal.
…Schweikert seemed at least passingly familiar with the system that had little oversight from him, investigators said.
…The report is at odds with Schweikert’s efforts since late 2017 to cast the issues as accounting discrepancies.
His campaign has spent heavily on legal fees during the probe, and despite saying in interviews that he welcomed a chance to explain his account to investigators, the report says he balked, along with about a dozen other Schweikert staffers tied to his congressional office or campaign committees.
That left unanswered questions about income, travel and other expenses related to Schweikert’s office and campaign.
…The lax accounting and extravagant expenditures described in the report also run counter to Schweikert’s efforts to cast himself as a math nerd who understands numbers better than his political opponents.
…The report includes interviews with unnamed former Schweikert staffers who cooperated with the probe and described a dysfunctional office.