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Fri Nov 15, 2019, 06:14 AM

GOP Rep. Spano admits federal campaign probe; Ethics panel looks into three others

Source: Washington Post

By Mike DeBonis
November 14, 2019 at 7:13 p.m. EST

The House Ethics Committee on Thursday disclosed a federal investigation into a Florida Republican accused of accepting an illegal campaign loan and also announced it was scrutinizing a veteran Florida Democrat for a long-standing personal relationship with a highly paid aide. Rep. Ross Spano (R-Fla.) acknowledged the Justice Department probe in a statement issued after the ethics panel’s announcement Thursday.

The freshman has faced questions about $180,000 in loans he accepted from friends last year during the closing months of his campaign. He later appeared to funnel the money into his campaign account, reporting it as a personal loan to the campaign.Spano has blamed bad advice for any campaign-finance misdeeds stemming from the loans, and he continued to make that case Thursday.

Under federal law, individuals may contribute no more than $2,700 to House candidates. “We plan to cooperate fully with the Justice Department on this matter,” he said in a statement. “As I’ve said before, we acknowledged that mistakes were made with respect to the campaign loans, but those mistakes were completely inadvertent and unintentional. We were the ones who self-reported this to the FEC. We are confident that upon review, the Justice Department will see it that way, too.”

The Ethics Committee said in a brief statement that the Justice Department “asked the Committee to defer consideration of this matter,” prompting a unanimous vote to comply with the request. The panel routinely steps aside in matters subject to criminal investigation, as it did during the recent probes into Reps. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), who has been indicted on a charge of using campaign funds for personal expenses, and Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), who resigned last month after pleading guilty to insider trading charges. The announcement regarding Spano was one of four actions the panel announced Thursday.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/gop-rep-spano-admits-federal-campaign-probe-ethics-panel-looks-into-three-others/2019/11/14/db2c9e5e-072b-11ea-b17d-8b867891d39d_story.html

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