Ethics watchdog: ‘Substantial reason to believe’ Rep. Jackson improperly used campaign funds
The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) said it found “substantial reason to believe” Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) used campaign funds for membership dues and other services at a social club in his home state.
The OCE, an independent watchdog that looks into unethical lawmaker behavior and refers cases to the House Ethics Committee, found that Jackson’s campaign committee paid $5,907.13 to the Amarillo Club, a private dining institution in Amarillo, Texas. The money went toward dues, fees, meals and other services, according to the OCE report finalized in December and released publicly Monday.
Between October 2020 and September 2021, Jackson’s campaign paid the club a monthly membership fee of $175.37, totaling nearly $2,000, the OCE said.
The campaign also paid the club $3,147.06 for a large gathering in May 2021. The meeting was described as a “Fundraising Event” on the Amarillo Club’s Banquet Event Order Form, according to the OCE report.
The House has rules against members converting campaign funds to personal use, and the chamber’s ethics manual says “campaign funds are not to be used to enhance a Member’s lifestyle, or pay a Member’s personal obligations.”
The OCE said its board voted 6-0 to recommend that the House Ethics Committee review the allegations against Jackson. The committee revealed in April that it was reviewing allegations that Jackson may have breached ethics rules, though the details were unclear. The congressman did not cooperate with the OCE’s probe.
In a statement responding to the OCE report, Justin Clark, whose firm represents Jackson and his campaign in the ethics probe, said the congressman’s campaign purchased a membership at the Amarillo Club to use meeting rooms at the facility “for internal and external meetings, including but not limited to fundraising events” and campaign purposes.
Clark cited the club’s close proximity to the campaign office and said purchasing a membership at the club cost less than renting meeting spaces.
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