House Ethics refers Del. San Nicolas to prosecutors over alleged campaign improprieties

'We're confident no further investigation will come of this matter,' delegate's attorney says

Del. Michael F.Q. San Nicolas, D-Guam, has been under investigation for improper use of campaign funds. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Del. Michael F.Q. San Nicolas, D-Guam, has been under investigation for improper use of campaign funds. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted June 24, 2022 at 4:01pm

The House Ethics Committee is referring Guam Del. Michael F.Q. San Nicolas to federal prosecutors after finding he misused campaign funds, accepted improper contributions and was part of a conspiracy to hide the benefits of those contributions.

Additionally, the full panel approved its investigative subcommittee’s report that found San Nicolas, a Democrat, filed “false or incomplete” reports to the Federal Election Commission while also attempting to influence a witness during the committee’s probe.

San Nicolas’ decision to retire from the House is one reason the committee opted to send the case to the Justice Department.

“In light of the delegate’s impending retirement from the House and the potential for expiration of applicable statutes of limitations," the investigative subcommittee "recommended that the committee refer these allegations to the Department of Justice,” the panel said in a statement released Friday.

The full committee, composed of five Republicans and five Democrats, voted unanimously to send the matter to federal prosecutors.

The panel had also been looking into whether San Nicolas engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a member of his congressional staff. The committee’s Friday statement did not mention that allegation.

The delegate's office referred a request for comment to his lawyer, Stanley Woodward, who panned the committee's handling of the matter and predicted DOJ will not bother to investigate.

"After months of investigation, the production of thousands of pages of records related to the matters under inquiry, more than a half dozen recorded voluntary interviews with the Delegate's current and former staff, and countless hours facilitating the provision of all information requested by the Investigative Subcommittee," Woodward said in a statement to CQ Roll Call, "we are extremely pleased that the Subcommittee has taken the extraordinary step of concluding this matter without recommending the adoption of any Statement of Alleged Violation."

The attorney contends the Ethics panel's subcommittee did not interview San Nicolas or try other ways to get his input during its probe.

"We're confident no further investigation will come of this matter," Woodward said.

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 FEC.

San Nicolas was first elected in 2018 and was reelected in November 2020.

Chris Marquette contributed to this report.