The House Office of Congressional Ethics found “substantial reason to believe” four congressmen—Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.), Mike Kelly (R-Penn.), Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) and Alex Mooney (R-W.V.)—broke an assortment of ethics laws, according to documents released Thursday. The alleged offenses include misusing official funds, violating campaign-finance laws, misusing confidential information for personal gain and failing to properly report stock trades.
The investigations into the possible violations have moved on to the bipartisan House Committee on Ethics for further review. Unlike the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, that 10-member panel is empowered to subpoena and sanction House members.
Here’s a review of the cases.
Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Minn.)
The ethics office found that the two-term congressman may have misused official funds by hiring firms connected to two of his staffers to provide his office with mailing and design services, paying the companies amounts well beyond what is typical for a Congressional office. After LegiStorm first reported about the office’s prolific spending in June 2020, Hagedorn fired his chief of staff and commissioned an internal review.
The congressman also may have violated campaign-finance rules, according to the ethics office, when his campaign appeared to allow a donor to provide office space for free, an arrangement first reported by Politico.
“From the moment he learned of the franking issues in his office, Congressman Hagedorn acted in a responsible and transparent manner,” an attorney for Rep. Hagedorn said in a statement. “He self-reported the matter to the ethics committee and will continue to work with it to bring it to a conclusion. Moreover, he had no knowledge of the underlying issues and has acted in good faith throughout.”
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Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Penn.)
The six-term congressman may have misused confidential information for personal gain, the ethics office found. In April 2020, Kelly’s wife, Virginia, bought at least $15,000 of shares in Cleveland Cliffs, a steel producer. The purchase took place five days before the Department of Commerce announced an investigation into steel imports that stood to benefit the company. Kelly had advocated for the department’s probe, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. In addition to concluding that the trade was atypical for the Kellys, the ethics office found that information flowed from the commerce department to Cleveland Cliffs and then on to the congressman.
Kelly reported his wife sold at least some of her shares in Cleveland Cliffs this January. By then, their price was 248% higher than when she made the purchase. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 increased 29% over that same period.
“Details published in news reports regarding those disclosures were found because the Congressman publicly reported his financial records,” Kelly’s press secretary, Matt Knoedler, said in a statement. “Both the Congressman and Mrs. Kelly have been, and will continue to be, advocates and supporters of the Butler Works/Cleveland Cliffs plant in Butler, where they are lifelong residents.”
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.)
Malinowski failed to disclose dozens of stock trades within 45 days, as Federal law requires, the ethics office reported. The trades took place in January 2019 through January 2021 and totaled more than $670,000, according to information the congressman’s office provided earlier this year to Insider. In August, the two-term Democrat moved at least $1.56 million worth of his holdings into a blind trust.
“Contrary to the partisan attacks, there is no allegation before the committee of any abuse of office,” a spokesperson for Malinowski said in a statement. “The only matter that has been recommended for review is a failure to properly file some of his disclosures, an oversight which he has always acknowledged, and fully corrected.”
Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.V.)
The four-term lawmaker may have used campaign money for personal expenses and failed to report more than $40,000 in expenditures, according to the ethics office. In addition to spending $3,400 at West Virginia restaurants, the campaign also covered expenses for two visits to resorts with family members. The ethics office found that the undisclosed expenditures involved more meals, as well as $17,000 in gift cards purchased at Mooney’s church. The congressman repaid his campaign $12,000, but the ethics office determined the reimbursement did not cover all of the personal charges. CQ Roll Call first reported the ethics office’s findings on Mooney in August.
“The remaining allegations either involve legitimate officially related or campaign expenses at West Virginia businesses or involve campaign expense reporting that is largely technical in nature,” Mooney said in a statement
“Like President Trump and many other conservative leaders, I will continue to fight through the sea of slanted information and politically motivated leaks that have marred my right to a confidential examination of the facts,” Mooney said.