Top House Ethics Republican slapped with ethics complaint

The ranking member on Ethics Committee is under scrutiny for potential impermissible reimbursements

An ethics complaint has been filed against Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas (CQ Roll Call)
An ethics complaint has been filed against Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas (CQ Roll Call)
Posted July 10, 2019 at 7:12pm

The top Republican on the House Ethics Committee now has an ethics complaint against him regarding potentially impermissible reimbursements from his campaign account to congressional staffers.

The complaint, reported first by the Dallas Morning News, accuses Rep. Kenny Marchant of reimbursing House employees for items such as food and office supplies. That could be at odds with Federal Election Commission and House rules, which don’t allow staffers to contribute to their employers’ campaign. 

The Texas Republican confirmed the complaint is before the Office of Congressional Ethics after voting Wednesday in the Capitol.

“It is a complaint. Anybody can file a complaint with the OCE,” Marchant said.

The total reimbursements added up to almost $7,800 in campaign-related expenses and they include cupcakes, office carpeting and picture framing, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Marchant declined to comment and directed inquiries to a spokesman when asked whether the ethics complaint raises questions about him serving as the ranking member on the House Ethics Committee. He added that he intends to “fully cooperate” with the OCE and “answer all their questions.”

The Office of Congressional Ethics is governed by a board of private citizens and reviews allegations of misconduct against members, officers and staff of the House. After a review process, it refers matters to the House Ethics Committee for further investigation or dismissal, but it is not authorized to determine if a violation occurred.

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Marchant said he hasn’t had any communication with the House Ethics Committee or the Office of Congressional Ethics regarding the matter. The House Ethics Committee conducts investigations into members and has the ability to adopt statements of alleged violation, issue sanctions and hold adjudicatory hearings that can lead to the censure of a member.

“Congressman Marchant has always advised members facing questions by the Congressional Ethics Office to cooperate to the fullest extent possible, and he plans to do the same,” said Keats Norfleet, Marchant’s campaign spokesperson, wrote in an email.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Pat Pangburn, a Democratic activist wrote the complaint asking the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate. The complaint references 18 times between 2007 and 2017 where Marchant’s employees in the House received campaign reimbursements.