AUSTIN, Texas — U.S. Rep. Troy Nehls’ campaign account had more than $150,000 stolen from it last year through an “unauthorized wire transfer,” according to new reporting.
The situation has caught the attention of the Federal Election Commission, which is asking for “further clarifying information” from the Richmond Republican’s campaign. The campaign first disclosed the “unauthorized payment,” dated July 7, in an FEC report covering the third quarter of 2022. The campaign was able to get back most of the funds later in that period, according to the same report.
“There was an unauthorized wire transfer initiated through fraudulent means on our campaign account,” Nehls spokesperson Taylor Hulsey said in an email Monday. “We are unable to comment further as all information has been submitted to the FBI for criminal investigation.”
RawStory first outlined the sequence of events in an article published Monday.
Nehls is in his second term representing the 22nd Congressional District in the Houston area, which was a national battleground in 2020 but has since been redrawn to be Republican-friendly. A former Fort Bend County sheriff, Nehls is an enthusiastic backer of ex-President Donald Trump — one of the few Republicans in the Texas delegation to already endorse Trump’s 2024 comeback bid.
The July 7 payment totaled $157,626, and it went to an entity called “Misty J Productions.” The entity is virtually unknown — FEC records indicate no other campaign has done business with it. Nehls’ campaign did not say in its statement how the entity obtained the money or whether anyone on the campaign staff was aware of the transfer when it happened.
Nehls’ campaign recouped $137,626 from Misty J Productions through two receipts it reported from the entity later in the third quarter, one on July 20 and the other on Sept. 30. Both receipts were described as “UNAUTHORIZED TRANSACTION FUNDS RETURNED.”
On Jan. 25 of this year, the FEC wrote to Nehls’ campaign seeking more information about both the “unauthorized payment” and the returned money.
“Although the Commission may take further legal action regarding this apparent improper use of Committee funds, any further clarifying information that you can provide will be taken into consideration,” read the letter from Ryan Furman, senior campaign finance and reviewing analyst.
Nehls is far from the only congressperson to experience such theft of campaign funds lately. In one of the bigger examples, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, has alleged that cybercriminals stole nearly $700,000 from his campaign last year. The FBI is investigating.
For a politician like Nehls, over $150,000 is a major amount of campaign funds to lose. On the same third-quarter report in which Nehls disclosed the “unauthorized payment,” he raised about $260,000 total, excluding the recouped money from Misty J Productions.
This story comes from our KHOU 11 News partners at The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans - and engages with them - about public policy, politics, government, and statewide issues.