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House Ethics Extends Probe into Rep. Jim Renacci

Jurisdiction over Ohio Republican ends Jan. 3, when he leaves Congress

The House Ethics Committee has extended its inquiry into Rep. Jim Renacci. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
The House Ethics Committee has extended its inquiry into Rep. Jim Renacci. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House Ethics Committee has extended its inquiry into Rep. Jim Renacci, the panel said in a release Monday, although it has only until Jan. 3, when the Ohio Republican leaves Congress, to exercise its jurisdiction in the matter. 

The Ethics Committee began reviewing the case against the Ohio Republican when the panel received a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics on Aug. 9. Renacci, who was elected in 2010 to represent northern Ohio, set out to run for governor of the Buckeye State at the start of the 2018 campaign cycle. But at the urging of President Donald Trump, Renacci changed lanes and ran for the Senate. He lost to Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

The House Ethics Committee has jurisdiction only over standing members of the chamber, so when Renacci leaves at the end of the 115th Congress, on Jan. 3, the panel’s jurisdiction over him expires. 

Renacci has faced criticism for a range of actions while serving in the House, but the House Ethics Committee did not specify what allegations are the focus of the inquiry.

In April, the Ohio Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics against Renacci, accusing him of misusing his congressional office for political purposes. The Ohio Democrats’ complaint said Renacci used his congressional website to promote his now-defunct gubernatorial candidacy; tweeted about his campaign on his official House Twitter account; tweeted a picture of him engaging in campaign activity in his congressional office; and shared a photo of him at a congressional hearing on his campaign Facebook page.

He also took heat in September when it came to light that he used a strip club owner’s private plane to travel between campaign events. Renacci reported travel on the plane of Don Ksiezyk, owner of the Peek-a-Boo Club in Cleveland as an in-kind donation, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “I’m going with a volunteer, and no one’s concerned about traveling with him or anything,” Renacci said at the time.

His gubernatorial campaign has attracted the most attention for those keeping track of campaign money.

Shortly after announcing his gubernatorial bid last March, he doled out $56,000 in campaign contributions to 12 House GOP candidates and several affiliated political action committees. Eight of those Republicans then turned around and contributed to Renacci’s gubernatorial campaign, totaling $26,700.

“The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or an extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee,” the committee’s statement announcing the action said.

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