The House Ethics Committee has voted to begin an investigation into Democratic Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick of Florida over alleged campaign finance violations.
Cherfilus-McCormick was elected to represent Florida’s 20th Congressional District in a special election in 2022, filling the vacancy created by the death of Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings.
Amid allegations that Cherfilus-McCormick violated campaign finance laws during her special election campaign and, later, during her general election campaign in the 2022 midterm elections, the committee voted unanimously to begin an investigation, according to a Wednesday press release.
“[T]he Investigative Subcommittee shall have jurisdiction to determine whether Representative Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick violated the Code of Official Conduct or any law, rule, regulation, or other applicable standard of conduct in the performance of her duties or the discharge of her responsibilities,” the press release notes. It specifies the jurisdiction of the subcommittee’s work as her 2022 campaigns, as well as her mandatory statements to the House, such as ethics and financial disclosures, and her alleged unpaid employment of persons for official work.
The probe comes after the Office of Congressional Ethics referred the matter to it on Sept. 25. The committee had been due to announce a decision on the matter on Nov. 9, but decided to extend the time required to gather more information.
While members of Congress are allowed to use official funds for television advertisements, the content of these ads must be limited to official business and cannot be used for political campaigns. The allegations about Cherfilus-McCormick concern her alleged use of taxpayer funds from her Members’ Representational Allowance to produce campaign ads for her 2022 re-election effort, according to Inside Elections.
In the contracts she signed with television providers to place the ads, Cherfilus-McCormick identified herself as a political candidate, Inside Elections reported. She had also listed her campaign office as the addressee in one contract, as well as relied on one of her campaign fundraisers, Mark Goodrich, to execute the agreement with the providers.
The House Ethics Committee most recently established an Investigative Subcommittee to examine campaign finance allegations regarding former Republican Rep. George Santos of New York. The resulting report issued a damning condemnation of Santos, who was later expelled by the House of Representatives on Dec. 1.
“As the Ethics Committee said in its statement, the mere fact of establishing an investigative subcommittee does not itself indicate that any violation occurred. Regardless, the Congresswoman takes these matters seriously and is working to resolve them,” wrote Jonathan Levin, Cherfilus-McCormick’s press secretary, in an email to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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