Thursday, June 13, 2019

UPDATE: Gosar Committee Now Says Congressional Staff WORKED Last 3 Weeks of Campaign, Did NOT Simply Receive Holiday Bonuses

Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar responded immediately to the FEC's letter seeking more information about his holiday bonuses for his Congressional staff. However, that response may raise further concerns about House Ethics rules violations and/or campaign finance reporting.

The campaign committee filed an amended report yesterday. It now says that most of his Congressional staff were actually paid out of the campaign committee's checkbook for doing "administrative services." (amended report published below)

(Read: 1. "Rep. Gosar Pays $44k To Congressional Staff For "Campaign Bonuses"; May Have Violated Ethics Rules and/or Campaign Finance Laws"
2. "The Ghost of Holiday Bonuses Past: FEC Follows-Up On Rep. Gosar's Questionable Staff Bonuses")

This may raise further questions from authorities. The amended report now contradicts the committee's second amended post-general report, as to the purpose of the holiday disbursements. Both reports now do indicate that the monies were first owed to the Congressional staff during the post-general election period - which actually includes a few weeks before election day (October 18- November 26); could the Congressional staff members actually have performed $44,000 worth of "administrative services" during that period in a not-very-intense general election campaign. (Gosar won with more than 68% of the CD4 vote.)

The questions and concerns raised by experts in Arizona's Politics' first article exposing the bonuses still remain, as well. Having Congressional staff perform campaign tasks is permissible; however, the House Ethics Committee recommends that accurate records be maintained and that they perform the work on their own time and without office resources.

If $44,000 worth of campaign work was not performed by the staff members, election laws and House Ethics rules were violated. If the work was done and properly documented, then any inquiries by the FEC or the House Ethics Committee would clear the actions. However, the Congressman's office has declined to respond to repeated requests for a statement and/or documentation.

Two weeks after the first article, the FEC informed the Gosar campaign that the "bonus" explanations were "incorrectly reported". Responding generally yesterday, the FEC said yesterday that "administrative services" is also not descriptive enough to explain the purpose of a disbursement.

* Although the FEC has made it public that it is examining the bonuses/administrative services, it is not clear whether there has been a complaint or referral to either the House Ethics Committee or the Office of Congressional Ethics (that initiated the ethics investigation into Rep. David Schweikert (R-CD6)).

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