Schweikert Allowed Corruption To Run Wild In His Office, Including Illegal Handling Of Tax Dollars And Improper Campaign Contributions
Schweikert has allowed corruption to run wild in his office and is now facing the consequences in the form of investigations from both the Office of Congressional Ethics and the House Ethics Committee. Despite saying he welcomed the investigation, neither Schweikert nor Oliver Schwab, his former chief of staff who is in the middle of the alleged ethics violations, have cooperated in the probe and the OCE has recommended they be subpoenaed.
The OCE found “substantial reason to believe” two major violations of House ethics rules and federal law. In one case, Schweikert authorized impermissible office expenses, including over $6,000 in taxpayer money for Schwab’s trip to Arizona where he attended the Super Bowl with family. The OCE determined that Schwab “may have primarily engaged in campaign or personal activities” during the majority of the taxpayer-funded trip.
The OCE also said there was “substantial reason to believe” that Schweikert failed to ensure his campaign followed rules regarding contributions from congressional employees, after Schwab was likely reimbursed for at least $16,886 in personal outlays made on behalf of Schweikert’s campaign. Schab also may collected $60,000 more outside pay than what the House allowed, due to his political consulting firm’s lucrative relationship with his boss’s campaign.
Schweikert shrugged off the matter as a “bookkeeping issue” and even tried the old “former disgruntled staffer looking for revenge” approach.
Schweikert quickly drained his campaign funds to fight the accusations, owing more than $229,000 in legal fees at the end of March 2019. His legal debts nearly equal his cash on hand, and Schweikert may soon not even have campaign money to depend on any more—his campaign only raised $167,000 in the first quarter of 2019.
Schweikert’s Official, Taxpayer-Funded Office Revolved Around Donors And Raising Money, Not The People’s Business
In the course of the ethics investigation, it became clear that Schweikert’s office was a slipshod, money-obsessed mess, where taxpayer-funded staffers were judged on their ability to raise campaign cash and where the chief of staff was charged with ensuring Schweikert had enough money to advance his political career to the Senate. Schweikert’s office made staffers spend official time helping brief Schweikert for donor meetings, and one former staffer described a clear example of the office doing a favor for a donor specifically because they gave money to the campaign.
Schweikert Has Put His Big Money Donors Over Arizonans
Schweikert has served his big money donors in other ways too. While taking over $500,000 from the financial industry, Schweikert voted to gut Wall Street reform, voted to strip consumers of their right to sue when banks deceived them, voted to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and voted to put the needs of big banks over consumers.
Schweikert supported the Republican tax plan, which would cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy, but raise them on the middle while threatening massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare. But Schweikert’s big donors made out just fine — one of his top donors, Express Scripts, was estimated to save $864 million under the bill, and another big donor, Honeywell, saw an effective tax rate of less than 0%.
By voting for the disastrous American Health Care Act, Schweikert put his pharmaceutical and health insurance company donors–which have given him over $80,000– over the health of Arizona families. They would get billions of dollars in tax breaks, while Arizonans would get gutted protections for preexisting conditions and increased costs. Under the Schweikert-supported plan, insurance companies would even be allowed to charge older Americans five times more than younger adults.