Ethics Office Accuses Two Republicans of Misusing Campaign Funds

Congressmen Wesley Hunt and Ronny Jackson were found to have “substantial reason to believe” that they misused campaign monies at two Texas social clubs, according to the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). The OCE, an impartial, nonpartisan organization that investigates claims of wrongdoing involving legislators and personnel, found Jackson and Hunt to have spent thousands of campaign dollars at two private Texas social clubs in an unethical manner. 

Members of Congress are not allowed to use their campaign coffers for anything other than a designated fundraising event, which includes paying for personal expenses like membership dues or fees at a country club.

The Ethics Committee agreed to examine the OCE’s recommendation for additional investigation into the claims. Legal counsel for the two legislators has maintained that the money spent at the social clubs was for business. The Oak Room is a private social club inside the Post Oak Hotel in Houston. From April 2022 to January 2024, Hunt’s campaign, Hunt for Congress, spent $74,525.60 on fees, food, and other services there. 

A portion of that total, $5,412.50, was paid in dues and fees in 2022 and 2023. The oversight body found two separate disbursements totaling $2,706.25; one was marked “Membership” in April 2022 and the other “Food/Beverages” in April 2023.

The OCE was unable to ascertain whether or not Rep. Hunt may have utilized the Oak Room’s exclusive events or any hotel parking or room discount privileges since he, his wife, chief of staff, and field representative all declined to participate in an interview. The OCE also targeted two hefty payments made by Hunt’s campaign to the Post Oak Hotel.

The OCE investigation into Jackson is an extension of an earlier investigation into the lawmaker. The organization claimed that the Amarillo Club, a private dining club in Amarillo, Texas, was paid for by campaign monies used by Jackson’s campaign, Texans for Ronny Jackson. According to the OCE, Jackson is not cooperating with the ongoing investigation, and the committee is still reviewing the referral from the OCE as per Committee Rule 18(a).