Investigation Concludes Ronny Jackson Likely Violated Federal Law

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The Office of Congressional Ethics has concluded that “there is substantial reason to believe that Rep. [Ronny] Jackson converted campaign funds from Texans for Ronny Jackson to personal use or Rep. Jackson’s campaign committee expended funds that were not attributable to bona fide campaign or political purposes,” per a new public statement. Jackson, a Republican from Texas and Trump ally, was thus recommended by the ethics office to the House Ethics Committee as a subject for further investigation.

For Jackson’s campaign to have used campaign funds for personal expenses or spent money that wasn’t going towards campaign costs would apparently violate federal law — and again, the Office of Congressional Ethics concluded there’s a strong likelihood that’s exactly what Jackson did, which would mean he “may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law,” according to the office.

The issue concerns payments Jackson’s campaign made to the Amarillo Club, a social organization in Texas. According to campaign finance records reported on by The News Tribune, a Texas outlet, over $2,300 in costs tied to membership at the Amarillo Club were paid with Jackson’s campaign funds. Casey Nelson, a Jackson spokesperson, insisted the charges “are strictly associated with campaign and fundraising events” — but it’s not like Jackson seems to have been holding campaign and fundraising events there every other day. And yet, campaign money was used to maintain consistent membership.

Besides, is there nowhere else in Jackson’s district that could be used for campaign events? Per the Federal Election Commission, the following are prohibited: “Dues, fees or gratuities at a country club, health club, recreational facility or other nonpolitical organization, unless they are part of the costs of a specific fundraising event that takes place on the organization’s premises.” In a message from this January to the House Ethics Committee from a lawyer who was representing Jackson and the Texas Republican’s campaign in relation to investigations into the Amarillo Club expenses, just two individual Jackson campaign events at the Amarillo Club are cited — just two! The lawyer made no claim that the listings he provided represented the entirety of what the Jackson campaign used the premises for, but that’s not a great start!

“The campaign purchased the membership, primarily, to use such meeting space for internal and external meetings, including but not limited to fundraising events, for campaign purposes due to the proximity of the Amarillo Club to the campaign’s office,” the lawyer said. “The cost of such membership was determined to be less than the campaign would have spent on renting meeting space on an individual basis. While the campaign has not utilized the meeting space as frequently as originally anticipated, the campaign purpose of the expenditure nevertheless exists.” That lawyer also claimed neither Jackson nor his family have “utilized any benefits of the Amarillo Club other than dining and meeting spaces for campaign purposes.”

Adding food and drink charges onto the total substantially increases what Jackson’s campaign has spent at the Amarillo Club — “When charges solely listed as being for food and drink are included, the congressman’s main campaign committee, Texans for Ronny Jackson, reported spending more than over $6,400 at the Amarillo Club since 2020,” The News Tribune reported. Per House ethics panel leadership, “the Chairman and Ranking Member jointly decided on April 7, 2022, to extend the Committee’s review of the matter” regarding Jackson’s campaign finances.