Politics

House Ethics Office finds ‘substantial reason to believe’ four congressmen violated ethics law

Documents released by the House Office of Congressional Ethics this week allege that four congressmen violated ethics law.

Claims of their violations began at least a few months ago and some of the alleged crimes include misusing official funds, violating campaign-finance laws, misusing confidential information for personal gain and failing to properly report stock trades (Forbes). The cases went to the House Committee on Ethics for further review, rather than the Office of Congressional Ethics. The former has the power to  subpoena and sanction House members. The alleged violators of the law are Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.), Mike Kelly (R-Penn.), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) and Alex Mooney (R-WV). 

The Ethics office received a referral about Mooney in late July and decided to “extend the review of the matter” in September. He allegedly misused campaign funds, using them for family vacations and fast food instead of his campaign. Since the investigation began, he has repaid at least $12,000 (Rollcall). The ethics committee is made up of five Republicans and five Democrats, who have yet to decide how they will be proceeding.

Haegadorn’s office spending was first reported in June of 2020. He was the highest of thirteen House members to overspend during the first quarter of 2020, spending 39.8% of his office’s allowance during the first three months (LegiStorm). He is believed to have misused official funds by hiring the firms of some of his staffers and paying them an unusually high amount. He also is thought to have misused campaign funds, according to Politico. 

Kelly, on the other hand, may not have misused funds, but is believed to have misused confidential information in 2020. Five days before the Department of Commerce announced that they would be investigating a steel producer called Cleveland heights, Kelly’s wife bought $15,000 worth of shares in the company. Cleveland Heights would go on to be investigated for steel imports that stood to benefit it.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Kelly had been pushing Trump for the probe of foreighn steel imports. Although he said his wife had sold at least some of her shares earlier this year, the price of the shares had skyrocketed 248%.

Malinowski violated federal law by failing to report his stock trades – of which there were dozens – within the 45 day requirement. The trades in question all took place over the course of two years- from January 2019 to January 2021. He gained over $670,000 from the trades, according to Insider. Then, in August, the funds were moved to a blind trust. A spokesperson said he has “acknowledged and fully corrected” the “failure to properly disclose” the movements of money.

ARTICLE: RITA VOGT

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: NEW YORK TIMES

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