On Friday, the House Ethics subcommittee voted unanimously to reopen investigations into three Republican congressmen. The committee is bipartisan, chaired by Rep. Grace Meng, D-New York, and including Reps. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, Brian Higgins, D-New York, and David Rouzer, R-North Carolina.
House Ethics announces it is reauthorizing investigation subcommittees to look into allegations against Reps. David Schweikert, Chris Collins, and Duncan Hunter. But, they will continue to adhere to DOJ’s request not to interfere with pending litigation against Hunter and Collins
— Sarah D. Wire (@sarahdwire) May 3, 2019
The vote to reopen the investigation was a predictable next step for the Democratically-controlled House after two of the three GOP lawmakers were reelected despite having been federally indicted.
Hunter is a six-term congressman and former Marine from Apline, California who is slated for a September trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on charges that he and his wife, Margaret, stole $250,000 in campaign funds. The couple faces 60 federal charges, and are accused of siphoning campaign funds for hefty purchases at Abercrombie & Fitch, plastic surgery, vacations, nail salons, private school tuition, video games, and a $600 plane trip for the family’s pet rabbit.
Hunter has denied wrongdoing, saying his wife handled all the finances.
The House will be checking to see whether his conduct violated its official code of conduct, but will be delaying its investigation until after the criminal trial ends.
While Hunter’s legal drama is playing out, he’s still reporting for duty on Capitol Hill and introducing bills, but isn’t serving on any congressional committees.
Collins, representing New York’s 27th Congressional district since 2013, gained notoriety as the first member of Congress to publicly endorse Donald Trump for president. Collins also served on Trump’s transition team.
Collins is scheduled for trial in February of 2020 in federal court in New York for insider trading charges and lying to the FBI. Collins served on the board of Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech company; he is accused of providing non-public information to his son, Cameron Collins, who then sold nearly $1.4 million of the company’s stock.
Collins was reportedly overheard by reporters speaking into a cellphone in the halls of Congress, bragging, “Do you know how many millionaires I’ve made in Buffalo the past few months?”
Schweikert is an Arizona congressman who has served in Congress since 2011, and the only one of this trio who isn’t facing criminal charges at this time. However, Schweikert has been under investigation for over a year for misuses of campaign funds, including, specifically, funneling payments from his office budget to Oliver Schwab, his former chief of staff.
Through his spokesperson, Schweikert attributed any wrongdoing to simple bookkeeping discrepancies.