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House Ethics continues probe of Guam delegate

Michael F.Q. San Nicolas is under scrutiny for allegations of improper sexual relationship with staffer, campaign finance violations

Del. Michael F.Q. San Nicolas, D-Guam.
Del. Michael F.Q. San Nicolas, D-Guam. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After more than a year of investigating, the House Ethics Committee is still working to determine whether Guam Del. Michael F.Q. San Nicolas misused campaign funds, accepted improper contributions and engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a member of his congressional staff.

The Ethics panel is not usually quick to act on referrals from the Office of Congressional Ethics. For example, after it received a report concerning Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in 2013, it took the committee six years to resolve the Washington Republican’s inappropriate use of funds.

It is unclear what progress the investigative subcommittee has made into the San Nicolas matter and when it will be completed.

John Paul Manuel, the former campaign chairman for San Nicolas, told the Office of Congressional Ethics that San Nicolas accepted $10,000 in unreported cash from a local businessman, Andrew Park, during his initial run for Congress. Campaigns are limited to accepting a maximum of $100 in cash from a particular source, according to the Federal Election Commission.

San Nicolas, a Democrat, was first elected in 2018 and was reelected in November.

Manuel has also alleged that San Nicolas had a sexual relationship with Jennifer Winn, a subordinate who serves as the congressman’s acting chief of staff.

“He just operates like he can get away [with it] and so far he has gotten away with it,” Manuel told CQ Roll Call in 2020 of San Nicolas’ alleged relationship with Winn. “They’ve been very good at trying to cover their tracks.”

San Nicolas is married to Kathryn Santos Ko. They have two children.

The House in 2018 prohibited members from engaging in sexual relationships with their staff after a wave of sexual harassment scandals involving members of Congress. The rule follows that: “A Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not engage in a sexual relationship with any employee of the House who works under the supervision of the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner, or who is an employee of a committee on which the Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner serves.” Married couples are exempt.

The Ethics Committee is not mandated to release the full Office of Congressional Ethics report until the end of the current 117th Congress.

Tom Rust, a spokesperson for the House Ethics Committee, did not comment. William Beaman, a spokesperson for the Office of Congressional Ethics, did not comment.

Representatives for San Nicolas did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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