Editorials, Opinion

Mooney continues to rack up more ethics violations

Rep. Alex Mooney now faces new allegations of unethical behavior. This, after an investigation into alleged misuse of his campaign funds was launched last summer.

To recap, in August 2021, the watchdog group Office of Congressional Ethics looked into the possibility Mooney had used campaign funds to pay for vacations to West Virginia resorts and for eating out (to the tune of $3,475). It also examined over $40,000 in expenditures it says Mooney failed to properly disclose, according to CQ Roll Call, which reviewed the OCE’s report. Mooney did eventually reimburse his campaign for a little over $12,000.

After its investigation, the OCE referred the case to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Ethics, which has continued investigating and recently announced it would further its review of Mooney’s behavior and spending after the OCE presented more evidence.

New allegations under review include:

  • HSP Direct LLC — a company to which Mooney is closely connected — paid for Mooney and his family to vacation at the Ritz-Carlton in Aruba.
  • Mooney and staff used a D.C. house associated with HSP Direct for “lodging, workspace, and to host events” for free.
  • Mooney “routinely diverted official resources and staff time away from his constituents and official duties in favor of his and his family’s personal needs and sometimes for campaign activities,” and staffers were rarely compensated fairly for their time.
  • And Mooney “tampered with or withheld documents.”

We should note that Mooney has denied any wrongdoing.

As far as the misspent campaign funds go, there are worse frauds he could have committed. However, it says much about his character that he would take money gifted to him to run a successful campaign and spend it on personal wants. That, if nothing else, is a violation donors’ trust.

The newer allegations, however, are more disturbing. Accepting free vacations and use of a company’s property comes right up to — if not crosses over — the line into bribery.

HSP Direct describes itself as “a full-service direct mail fundraising agency offering online fundraising, production services, graphic design, and list and data services through our affiliated companies.”  Does “we’ll pay for your vacation if you use our services” sound like a quid pro quo to anyone else?

It’s also concerning that Mooney seems to have no qualms about using his congressional staff to conduct personal and campaign business. We, as taxpayers, are paying his staff to assist him in his capacity as a leader of our country — not to run whatever personal errands he sent them on. We pay him enough in salary that he should be able to afford to hire his own personal help.

And the allegations he tampered with or hid documentation is a kind of shadiness that speaks for itself.

This is who West Virginia Republicans want representing us in Washington? Really?

We’d like to put it out there that David McKinley could run on the General Election ballot this fall, either as an independent or as a write-in. If he’d like to run as an independent, he’ll need to have a Certificate of Announcement, nominating certificates (e.g., constituent signatures) and filing fee turned in before Aug. 1. Or, he could run as an official write-in candidate. For that, McKinley would only have to file a Certificate of Announcement by Sept. 20; he wouldn’t need to collect signatures or pay a filing fee.

If McKinley finds a way to get his name on the November ballot, he may find he has more support than he thinks.