Details of Rep. Nehls’ ethics investigation released

Still not sure how serious it all is. But at least now we know what it’s about.

Rep. Troy Nehls

U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Richmond, is being investigated by his peers over allegations that he used campaign funds for his personal use, according to an Office of Congressional Ethics report released Friday.

The Ethics Committee announced it was investigating Nehls in March, but the details of the investigation were confidential. Nehls acknowledged in a statement at the time that the investigation was related to his campaign finances and said he would cooperate with the Ethics Committee.

Nehls’ campaign paid more than $25,000 in rent to a company called Liberty 1776 from 2019 to 2022, according to records with the Federal Election Commission. The company is registered to Nehls, who is listed in state records as the sole operator and proprietor. Nehl’s attorney responded that the business is in fact linked to his campaign.

The report said the Office of Congressional Ethics could not determine a legitimate campaign use for the payments to Liberty 1776. It is illegal to use campaign finances for purposes not related to running for office.

The campaign lists a different address than the company’s for its campaign headquarters, though the report notes that address does not appear to be currently used by the campaign. It was most recently an Islamic school and previously a bar, according to the report.

Liberty 1776 was registered in November 2019, according to the Texas Secretary of State — less than a month before it received the first rent payment from the campaign. The company is currently listed as inactive by the Secretary of State.

The Office of Congressional Ethics wrote and turned over the report to the House Ethics Committee in December of last year. The Ethics Committee made the report public Friday as it announced it would continue investigating the case.

In a January response to the report, an attorney for Nehls wrote that the payments to Liberty 1776 were legitimate rent payments for the campaign’s headquarters and events. The campaign set up Liberty 1776 to rent the space listed as its campaign headquarters as a limited liability company to “offer the typical liability protections important for such engagements” since the venue was expected to host large events.

See here and here for the background. It all sounds shady and not at all like something that could be the result of carelessness or misinterpretation, but it also doesn’t sound like something that might put a person in legal peril. It’s one thing to break rules and another to break the law, and so far at least I’m not seeing anything to suggest that is the case. Maybe there’s more to come, I don’t know. As before, I’ll keep an eye on it. The Chron has more.

(Yes, I know, I haven’t said a thing about the whole Henry Cuellar situation, in which not only has actual lawbreaking been alleged but two of Cuellar’s consultants have already pleaded guilty to various charges. That’s one part due to the chaotic nature of how I do all this, and one part my extreme desire to not want to think about Henry Cuellar if I don’t have to. If and when he ever takes a plea or ends up in a courtroom I’ll pay attention to it. Until then, consider it acknowledged.)

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