The House Ethics Committee announced Thursday that the Justice Department was investigating whether freshman GOP Rep. Ross Spano violated campaign finance laws during his 2018 primary for Florida’s 15th District. Because the DOJ is looking into Spano, the Ethics Committee says they’ll defer their own probe.
Late last year, before he was even sworn in as a member of Congress, Spano admitted he might have broken federal election law by taking personal loans worth $180,000 from two friends and then loaning his campaign $170,000. That's a serious problem, because if you loan money to a congressional candidate with the intent of helping their campaign, you have to adhere to the same laws that limit direction contributions, which in 2018 capped donations at just $2,700 per person.
Spano responded to Thursday’s news with a statement declaring, “As I’ve said before, we acknowledged that mistakes were made with respect to the campaign loans, but those mistakes were completely inadvertent and unintentional. We were the ones who self-reported this to the FEC.” However, while Spano insisted he’s “confident that upon review, the Justice Department will see it that way, too,” he immediately began lobbing conspiracy theories at the DOJ.
“I continue to have doubts about the timing and motive behind this inquiry,” Spano said, “as the impeachment proceedings this week have shown me how far the left will go to destroy their opponents.” The Justice Department of course is run by Attorney General Bill Barr, who shall we say is not known for being a member of the left.
Spano’s seat, which includes Lakeland and the exurbs of Tampa and Orlando, went for Donald Trump by a 53-43 margin, but the congressman won by a smaller 53-47 spread last year. Two Democrats, state Rep. Adam Hattersley and former local TV news anchor Alan Cole, are currently competing in next year’s primary to take on the incumbent.