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Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick faces House ethics probe

Allegations include campaign finance questions and use of House office

A special investigatory subcommittee appointed by the House Ethics Committee will review allegations against Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, D-Fla.
A special investigatory subcommittee appointed by the House Ethics Committee will review allegations against Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, D-Fla. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A special subcommittee has been formed to investigate whether Florida Democratic Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick violated campaign finance laws in a 2022 special election or broke House rules while running her official office, leaders of the House Ethics Committee said Wednesday.

A bipartisan panel of four of her House colleagues will review campaign finance allegations connected to Cherfilus-McCormick’s’s 2022 special election victory and a reelection campaign later in 2022, according to the statement from the committee’s chairman, Michael Guest, R-Miss., and ranking member, Susan Wild, D-Pa.

The panel also will look at whether Cherfilus-McCormick “failed to properly disclose required information on statements required to be filed with the House; and/or accepted voluntary services for official work from an individual not employed in her congressional office.”

Details of the allegations were not released.

Cherfilus-McCormick’s spokesman emphasized in an emailed statement that the committee announcement said the creation of the panel “does not itself indicate that any violation occurred. Regardless, the Congresswoman takes these matters seriously and is working to resolve them.”

Cherfilus-McCormick had not raised more than $70,000 in challenging Rep. Alcee Hastings in the 2018 and 2020 primaries. After his April 2021 death, she ran in a crowded field in the November 2021 special primary and initially loaned her campaign $3.7 million, but paid $2 million of it back to herself. She won that primary by just five votes.

After she took office, she aired television commercials funded by her official House account and a 2022 report by Inside Elections’ Jacob Rubashkin noted the airtime appeared to have been bought using a consultant, rather than an official staff member.

New York Republican Rep. Andrew Garbarino will chair the subcommittee, while Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., will be the ranking member. Also serving will be Reps. Cliff Bentz, R-Ore., and Troy Carter, D-La. 

The committee leaders’ statement said the panel was appointed after the Office of Congressional Ethics, which is made up of appointees, referred the case to the full committee, a panel with the power to recommend sanctions.

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