The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) is investigating West Virginia Congressman Alex X. Mooney (R) for possible campaign finance violations — including whether he improperly spent campaign funds for personal purposes, the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call reported Tuesday evening.
The OCE did not respond to a request for comment, but Roll Call said that documents, and a source familiar with the ethics office, suggest that Mooney — a former Maryland state senator and ex-chair of the Maryland Republican Party — is under investigation. Roll Call revealed in October that Mooney had spent $49,000 from his congressional campaign fund on resorts, meals, car expenses and other personal purposes.
The newspaper reported that OCE is also looking into thousands of dollars in expenditures that Mooney’s campaign made at St. James Parish in Charles Town, W.Va., where the lawmaker lives, and at the church gift shop.
According to Roll Call, Dirk Haire, a Washington, D.C., attorney and chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, is listed as Mooney’s representative for the purposes of the OCE investigation. Haire, who served as counsel to the state GOP when Mooney was chairman, did not respond to a request for comment, the newspaper said.
Maryland Senate Minority Whip Michael J. Hough (R-Frederick) serves as Mooney’s chief of staff on Capitol Hill.
Mooney represented Frederick and Washington counties in the Maryland Senate from 1999 to 2011 and served as chairman of the state GOP from 2010 to 2013. He moved across the border to West Virginia in time to pursue and win an open congressional seat there in 2014.
If the Office of Congressional Ethics finds sufficient cause, it can recommend that the House Ethics Committee, which has the authority to mete out punishment to members of Congress, take over the investigation.
Regardless of whether the probe threatens Mooney’s political career, he could find his congressional seat in jeopardy next year because reapportionment is robbing West Virginia of one of its three seats in the House of Representatives, meaning incumbents may have to compete against one another if they want to remain in office.