Washington, DC (LOOTPRESS) – An ethics investigation into alleged campaign expenditure violations by West Virginia Second District Congressman Alex Mooney will continue, according to multiple media sources.
The Eastern Panhandle Republican was already facing a possible contested primary since the West Virginia legislature placed him in the same congressional district as fellow Republican David McKinley beginning in the 2022 elections.
The state’s loss of population forced lawmakers to cut the number of House of Representatives positions from three to two, forcing the consolidation.
According to reports, the House Ethics Committee voted this week to extend the investigation into alleged campaign expense violations by Mooney and officially released a report detailing their accusations.
The report by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics concluded that Mooney’s campaign reported expenses “that may not be legitimate or verifiable,” including spending for “small-dollar meal expenses” at Chick-fil-A, Panera, Taco Bell, and pizza vendors located near his Eastern Panhandle home.
Bloomberg media reported that Mooney said those expenditures were justified because he talked to constituents while getting food.
The report also questioned spending on family travel to the Canaan Valley Resort and major expenditures for car repairs and a storage shed.
It also noted campaign reimbursements to Mooney of over $22,000 in expenses that weren’t itemized, as well as over $17,000 in non-itemized spending on gift cards from Mooney’s church, which were then used for purchases at a grocery store.
Mooney, a leading conservative representative, said in a prepared statement that OCE’s report showed “the majority of the politically motivated allegations against me were found to lack merit.” He said the remaining allegations involved “legitimate officially-related or campaign expenses at West Virginia businesses or involve campaign expense reporting that is largely technical in nature.”
Mooney suggested the investigation into his expenditures is triggered by the same motives liberals have used to investigate former President Donald Trump.
“Like President Trump and many other conservative leaders, I will continue to fight through the sea of slanted information and politically motivated leaks that have marred my right to a confidential examination of the facts,” the congressman said.
It is not the first time Mooney’s ethics have been questioned. He allegedly moved from Maryland, where he was at one time a state senator, to West Virginia after running afoul of campaign finance rules that limited his ability to run for Congress in Maryland.
West Virginia legislative sources speculate that the new district created for Mooney and McKinley clearly favors McKinley from the state’s Northern Panhandle. Far more counties from McKinley’s existing district are in the new district than Mooney’s.
McKinley has not commented on Mooney’s ethics case.
The OCE investigated after Mooney’s campaign finances were questioned by the Federal Election Commission, prompting him to file several amendments to disclosure reports and attempting to shut down his original campaign committee.
The FEC said the committee had to remain open “while a determination is being made on whether to pursue these matters any further.”
Mooney cooperated with the OCE investigation, the report said, but the office was concerned about a pattern of violations of rules against personal use of campaign money and that some violations”remain unaddressed.”
The Ethics Committee should issue subpoenas to Mooney’s bank and others that refused to provide information to the OCE, the report said. The Ethics Committee has broad powers to further investigate, the report added. Those include the ability to subpoena documents and other pertinent information.
At the same time, investigations of three other congressmen — Democrat Tim Malinowski of New Jersey, Republicans Mike Kelly and Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota — will also move forward, the reports say.
The House Ethics Committee can discipline members as it sees fit although harsh punishment has been rare in the past, according to CQ Roll Call.
Using campaign funds for personal use is illegal.
Mooney campaign consultant Mark Harris said all the expenses are legitimate.
The House Ethics Committee’s website notes that a member is prohibited from using his or her official position for personal gain.