Ethics Committee investigating claims Arizona Republican pressured staff to perform political work
If Arizona GOP Rep. David Schweikert hoped that he was about to put his ethics issues behind him, he got some unpleasant news on Thursday when the House Ethics Committee voted unanimously to expand the scope of their inquiry into his activities.
Roll Call writes that the committee is looking into allegations that Schweikert used official congressional office resources to benefit his campaigns. They’re also investigating whether the congressman pressured his congressional staff to do political activities for him and whether he “authorized compensation to an employee who did not perform duties commensurate with his House employment,” which Roll Call says is code for “off-the-books settlements” paid out to staffers. Oh, and the committee is also looking into whether a congressional employee gave Schweikert or his campaign loans or gifts.
Back in June, the committee announced that both Schweikert and now-former chief of staff Oliver Schwab were under investigation. The complaint at the time said that they were looking into allegations that Schweikert’s campaign had paid Schwab considerably more than congressional staffers are allowed to earn in outside income. Schweikert still managed to win re-election 55-45 against Democrat Anita Malik, but that margin was far smaller than all his previous victories in his current district, which he’d never carried by less than 24 points.
Now, these fresh allegations are both much more serious and come much earlier in the cycle, so Team Blue will have a lot more time to organize a competitive campaign against Schweikert. And there’s good reason to target him: Arizona’s 6th Congressional District, which includes part of the Phoenix suburbs, shifted sharply to the left thanks to Donald Trump: After voting 60-39 for Mitt Romney, Trump carried it just 52-42.
Even more alarming for Schweikert, Democratic Sen.-elect Kyrsten Sinema lost the 6th to Republican Sen.-designate Martha McSally by a narrow 51-47 margin this year, according to analyst Drew Savicki. If his ethical woes worsen, his congressional career might not last much longer.