Rep. Ross Spano Under Investigation by DOJ Over Campaign Finances

Rep. Ross Spano (R-Fla.) is under investigation by the Department of Justice over possible campaign finance violations, the House Ethics Committee announced on Nov. 14.

Spano, 53, a first-time federal lawmaker, might have received improper loans to support his election to the House and the amount of the loans may have exceeded federal campaign contribution limits, the Board of the Office of Congressional Ethics said in a report the committee released.

The board recommended (pdf) that the committee review the allegation “because there is substantial reason to believe” that Spano received improper loans.

A review of the matter was extended by Chairman Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Ranking Member Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) on Sept. 30 but deferred to a Department of Justice probe.

“The Department of Justice has asked the committee to defer consideration of this matter and the committee, following precedent, unanimously voted to defer consideration of this matter at this time,” Deutch and Marchant said in a joint statement.

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Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) at a candidate forum at Temple Kol Ami in Plantation, Florida in a 2018 file photograph. He is chairman of the House Ethics Committee. (Saul Martinez/Getty Images)

According to complaints, Spano borrowed $180,000 from two friends and loaned that money illegally to his campaign. Spano later said in a letter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that he got a bank loan to repay his friends.

Spano thought he was in compliance with the law but came to recognize what he did might have violated the Federal Campaign Finance Act, his attorney wrote.

“Today, the House Committee on Ethics deferred their review of my self-reported filings with the FEC. We plan to cooperate fully with the Justice Department on this matter,” Spano said