House ethics committee reveals separate probes into two congressmen on the same day

Key Points
  • The House ethics committee on Thursday revealed separate probes into two congressmen over allegations of House rules violations.
  • Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings from Florida is being investigated by the committee over his relationship with a subordinate staffer.
  • On the same day, the House announced a separate probe into Republican Rep. Ross Spano, who's under investigation by the Justice Department for allegations of violating campaign finance rules.
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., left, and Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla.
Bill Clark | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images; Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

The House Ethics Committee has revealed separate probes into two congressmen over possible violations of House rules.

Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings of Florida is under investigation for his relationship with a subordinate staffer, the committee said Thursday.

The House panel also announced on Thursday that the Justice Department is investigating Republican Rep. Ross Spano, also of Florida, for allegations of campaign finance violations.

Hastings admitted to having a romantic relationship with a staff member to the Palm Beach Post in April, saying that they've been together for 25 years. Their relationship has been questioned before, but the House only last year adopted a rule preventing members of Congress from having a sexual relationship with a member of their staff.

The Committee on Ethics opened the investigation on May 14 and announced its probe on Thursday.

In a statement, the committee said it "is specifically considering whether Representative Hastings' relationship with the individual employed in his congressional office is in violation" of House rules and "whether Representative Hastings has received any improper gifts, including any forbearance, from that employee."

Hastings said in a statement on Thursday that he's "cooperated with the Committee since May 14, 2019. As they continue to conduct their work, I stand ready to fully cooperate with their inquiry."

Former California Rep. Katie Hill announced her resignation on Oct. 27 amid an ethics probe into an alleged relationship with a subordinate staffer.

Meanwhile, the committee said in a statement that it had been reviewing allegations of campaign finance violations against Spano since September, but would defer its investigation at the request of the Justice Department as the DOJ conducts its own inquiry.

Spano faces scrutiny over failing to disclose that he received $180,000 in loans from friends and spent it on his congressional campaign. There is no limit to how much money candidates can personally loan their campaigns, but loans from others are considered campaign contributions and cannot exceed $2,700 per cycle.

"We plan to cooperate fully with the Justice Department on this matter," a Thursday press release from his office said. "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."

The statement went on to say that the campaign "self-reported" the mistakes to the Federal Election Commission. "We are confident that upon review, the Justice Department will see it that way, too."