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Ronny Jackson congressman using campaign money to the Amarillo Club

The Ethics Office says that Ronny Jackson used campaign money to pay for an exclusive club.

The office said that the Texas Republican in the House may have broken rules about how to spend money on a campaign. It also said that West Virginia Republican Representative Alex X. Mooney may have done something wrong.

Monday, congressional ethics investigators said they had found "substantial" evidence that Texas Republican Representative Ronny Jackson used campaign donations to pay for his wife and himself to have unlimited access to a private dining club in Amarillo, Texas. This is against the rules.

According to a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics, Mr. Jackson, who became famous as the White House doctor for former President Donald J. Trump and went on to win a seat in the House, used campaign money to pay for the Amarillo Club, which is against the rules of the Federal Election Commission.

Ronny Jackson congressman using campaign money to the Amarillo Club
Representative Ronny Jackson, on the left, is accused of using campaign money to get unlimited access to a private dining club in Amarillo, Texas, called the Amarillo Club.

The report said, "There are strong reasons to think that Representative Jackson used campaign funds from Texans for Ronny Jackson for his own purposes or that Representative Jackson's campaign committee spent money that couldn't be linked to real campaign or political purposes."

It came out at the same time that the House Ethics Committee said it would keep looking into Mr. Jackson and another Republican who works with Mr. Trump, Representative Alex X. Mooney of West Virginia. Mooney was accused in a separate report of taking a free or cheap trip to Aruba and using his staff to run personal errands.

The Amarillo Club is a private social club with fine dining, a wine program, a gym, and banquet and meeting rooms. It is part of a national network of private golf and country clubs, giving its members access to golf courses all over the U.S.

Mr. Jackson didn't want to help with the investigation, and neither did the treasurer of his campaign or the accounting firm he used. On Monday, his lawyer said that the congressman had planned to use the club membership for events related to his campaign.

The report showed that Mr. Jackson joined the club in October 2020 using $649.50 from his campaign funds. Since then, his campaign has paid $175.37 per month in dues, for a total of $1,929.07.

Between October 2020 and September 2021, Mr. Jackson's campaign paid the club $5,907.13 for dues, fees, meals, and other services.

Investigators said that Mr. Jackson's membership gave him and his wife access to the club's dining rooms, gym, banquet and meeting rooms, club events, and other perks.

In a letter to the ethics office, Mr. Jackson's lawyer, Justin R. Clark, said that the campaign bought the Amarillo Club membership "primarily to use such meeting space for internal and external meetings, including but not limited to fund-raising events, for campaign purposes due to the proximity of the Amarillo Club to the campaign's office."

Mr. Clark said that the campaign "has not used the meeting space as often as was originally planned," but that the "campaign purpose of the expenditure still exists."

Mr. Clark wrote that neither Congressman Jackson nor any member of his family had used the Amarillo Club for anything other than dining and meeting spaces for campaign purposes.

Investigators said, though, that Mr. Clark "refused to provide any documents or testimony to back up this position."

The Office of Congressional Ethics is an independent watchdog that sends cases to the Ethics Committee, which can decide on punishments. The office released a second report on Monday that said there was "substantial reason to believe" that Mr. Mooney had also done something wrong.

Investigators found that Mr. Mooney and his family took a vacation at the Ritz-Carlton in Aruba in early March 2021. The trip was paid for by HSP Direct, a company with which Mr. Mooney has a lot of personal and financial ties. Investigators said that Congressional staff members were used to set up travel for the Mooneys.

Investigators wrote that HSP Direct's payment for the trip, which cost at least $10,803, is probably against House rules because it was a gift.

Also, during the ethics investigation, investigators found that Mr. Mooney "may have used official resources, such as staff time, for campaign work and personal errands" and "may have kept, hid, or made up information."

Seven former and current employees said that Mr. Mooney and his family often asked them to do things that were not part of their jobs. These tasks included babysitting, fixing a personal car, and helping with personal finances and businesses.

For example, when the Mooneys couldn't watch their dog Skipper, they asked a former aide to take Skipper from their home in Charles Town, West Virginia, to a relative's home in Bethesda, Maryland.

Investigators say that several of Mr. Mooney's former staff members were supposed to pick up his dirty clothes from different places in the official office and take them to the dry cleaners in the Longworth House Office Building. Mr. Mooney put his worn shirts and suits on one staff member's office chair. She said that meant he wanted the clothes to go to the laundry.

The report said that Mr. Mooney also asked an assistant to bring him a shirt and a towel to wash at home.

In a statement, Mr. Mooney said he would work with the committee, but he didn't agree with the report's conclusions, which he called "widespread factual misrepresentations, evidence exaggerations, and clearly wrong legal conclusions."

He said that he had paid back HSP Direct "for what the congressman thinks is more than the value of any gift to him" and that "there was no wrong connection between any gift and any official action by the congressman."

The reports came at the same time that the Ethics Committee said it would start looking into North Carolina Republican Representative Madison Cawthorn to see if he did anything wrong by promoting a cryptocurrency in which he had an undisclosed financial interest and by having an inappropriate relationship with someone on his staff.

Last week, Mr. Cawthorn lost his primary race after a series of bad news came out about him. Blake Harp, his chief of staff, said in a statement on Monday, "We welcome the chance to prove that Congressman Cawthorn did nothing wrong and that he was falsely accused by partisan opponents for political gain."

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