Arizona Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6) has seen his campaign committee sink underwater, owing more money than it has on hand, as his legal expenses climbed to $583,000 as a result of a year-long ethics investigation. The apparent origin of the trouble – Oliver Schwab, his former Chief of Staff – is no longer under investigation.
The investigation continues, and the Arizona Republic’s Ronald Hansen reported on yesterday’s release of last year’s initial referral by the Office of Congressional Ethics to the House Ethics Committee. Most of that information was already in the public sphere; however, it does indicate that the referral for the alleged infractions was unanimous.
The Committee – made up of Republican and Democratic Representatives – then voted unanimously in June 2018 to establish an Investigative SubCommittee (“ISC”). It was between the April referral and the June ISC that Friends of David Schweikert began paying five different law firms.
One law firm (Holland & Knight) consulted with several individuals affiliated with the campaign or his Congressional office, and was paid $34,375 between May and December 2018. Another law firm (Venable) appears to be representing Legislative Director Matthew Tully, and has been paid $17,459. (Last payment was March 25.)
Berke Farah has been representing Schwab. And, even though the Ethics Committee lost jurisdiction over Schwab when he resigned on July 9, 2019, the legal expenses are still accruing. Schweikert’s committee has paid Berke Farah $71,633 through March 25.
It is not clear whether the remaining two law firms are representing the Congressman, his campaign committee, or other individuals or entities. Wiley Rein has billed $22,727 since last summer, and is still owed all of that save $405.
The well-known campaign finance law firm of Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky has been the most involved. They were first paid by the campaign committee in June 2018, and have received $230,554; the last payment was on January 25. However, they are owed $206,906, and most of that ($118,049) was INCURRED during the first three months of 2019.
Schweikert’s campaign committee was officially underwater on March 31, 2019, with a reported $240,564 in the bank and debts owing to Holtzman Vogel plus others of $251,614. This, as two Democrats who ran in the Phoenix area in 2018 have announced their plans to unseat Schweikert.
And, as Politico noted, the $167,925 in contributions reported for the first quarter is “anemic” for a longtime Congressman who holds a seat on the powerful Ways & Means Committee (and is facing a credible election challenge).
It is important to note that – although the initial referral was released today by the Ethics Committee – the investigation is continuing. And, the legal expenses would indicate that it has become more intense, despite the Congressman’s repeated insistence that the “errors” have been resolved.
KPNX’s Brahm Resnik spoke with the Congressman today and reports that Schweikert says “he did nothing wrong & doesn’t plan to resign.” (Video on tonight’s newscast.) Resnik also shared this video from one year ago.
JUST IN Republican @RepDavid Schweikert’s legal bills piling up in ethics investigation he once dismissed as ‘bookkeeping issue.’ Below his May 2018 comment: ‘It’s all been fixed now.’ https://t.co/QKWik5JtRJ #AZ06 pic.twitter.com/esoeMQ0Mmy
— BrahmResnik (@brahmresnik) April 16, 2019
And, while the Ethics Committee indicated in December that it is investigating whether Schweikert “may have omitted required information from his annual House financial disclosure statements and Federal Election Commission candidate committee reports”, Arizona’s Politics can report that neither Schweikert nor his campaign committee has filed amended reports since then.
The Ethics Committee’s documents and the campaign committee’s finance report for 1Q19 can be found at Arizona’s Politics.