Central Florida Congressman-elect Ross Spano (R FL-15) is scheduled to join the 116th United States Congress in January of 2019, and when he does, members from both parties said he’ll need to face some tough questions about his campaign and a series of loans that may have violated campaign finance law.
The questions come after it was revealed friends of Spano loaned him $180,000 for his campaign, a possible violation of election law.
“We all run campaigns that have to follow campaign finance rules and the law and nobody is above the law, and someone who seeks to be in Congress needs to follow the rules,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D FL-07), who added that Congress must “absolutely” investigate how Spano ran his campaign.
Murphy, who was recently elected to her second term in Congress was joined in her call for oversight, from across the aisle.
Incoming Republican Michael Waltz (R FL 06) also expressed an interest in oversight saying, “there are FEC rules, there is an enforcement mechanism and if the FEC is going to do an investigation it should be done in a free and fair way."
Spano, an attorney and former Florida Legislator, is set to replace retiring Republican congressman Dennis Ross, won a close primary in August defeating four other Republicans.
He then won in November, defeating democrat Kristen Carlson by 6.2%.
However, in the final days of the general election, questions arose about his finances.
Spano was almost 14-weeks late in filing his financial disclosure form; a form he only submitted two days before the November election.
Then came questions about loans.
Candidates are allowed to loan their own campaigns an unlimited amount of their own money. However, candidates are limited to just $2,700 per donor per cycle. Spano, it appears, took in $180,000 in loans from friends and used the money in his campaign as if it was a loan from himself, a possible violation of FEC rules.
In a letter dated Nov. 30, 2018, a law firm representing Spano wrote, “Representative-Elect Spano and the personal loans he made to the Committee may have been in violation of the Federal Campaign Finance Act.” Adding, “upon such recognition, the respondents have taken several proactive steps to address this matter, including but not limited to engaging our firm as counsel, terminating prior accountancy, compliance, and relevant consultancy representations, and engaging new accountancy, compliance, and consultancy representations.”
While it is unlikely U.S. House leadership will refuse to seat Spano, an investigation by the House Ethics Committee has been called for and could begin within weeks.
Representatives for Spano did not return a request for comment.
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