The top Republican on the House Ethics committee just got nailed with major ethics complaint

The top Republican on the House Ethics Committee just got nailed with an ethics complaint for violating FEC regulations that prevent campaign donations from his own Congressional staffers.

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Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX) is facing the complaint after his staffers engaged in a pattern and practice of unlawful reimbursements for otherwise lawful expenditures.

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It’s yet another black eye for House Republicans serving on the ethics panel, following last year’s scandal which led to Rep. Patrick Meehan losing his seat on the same committee and resigning in disgrace after the married Congressman was caught hiding a workplace sexual harassment lawsuit settlement for proclaiming his unwanted love to an aide half his age.

The House Ethics manual is clear that the behavior Marchant is accused of is prohibited, but that didn’t stop him from breaking the rules eighteen times over a ten year period, that we know of. The Dallas Morning News reports:

The complaint, obtained by The Dallas Morning News, instead zeroes in on rules by the Federal Election Commission and the House that classify those reimbursements as contributions. That’s problematic because House employees are barred from donating to the campaign of their boss.

The cited staffers, some of whom also worked for the campaign, include Marchant’s chief of staff, Brian Thomas. The reimbursements in question add up to nearly $7,800, covering campaign expenses like cupcakes for an event, office carpeting and picture framing.

Because the outlays are considered loans, they run afoul of the FEC’s requirements to report them as campaign contributions.

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But the Texas Republican didn’t report them as such.

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Rep. Marchant’s staff spokesman says that he plans to cooperate with investigators fully, unlike Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who stonewalled the committee and faces a full blown inquiry.

Democrats consider Marchant’s Dallas-Fort Worth area seat to be endangered, as he only won his last race by three points.

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Experts from the Campaign Legal Center explained that the rule is in place to prevent members of Congress from coercing their staffs into working on their political campaigns.

However, it is legal for congressional staffers to wear both hats as long as the money is kept strictly separated.

Rep. Marchant’s offenses, that we know of, may not be massive. But as the top GOP member of the House Ethics Committee, he has a responsibility to hold himself to the highest ethical standards.

Now, he stands as the latest top GOP House Ethics Congressman shamefully facing an investigation from his own panel.

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Grant Stern

Editor at Large

Grant Stern is a columnist for the Washington Press. He's also mortgage broker, writer, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida.

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