California Representative Duncan Hunter, affectionately nicknamed The Vaping Congressman after he infamously pulled out his trusty vape mod during a congressional hearing on airplane vaping last year, is once again the target of an investigation. This time, the charges are being led by the U.S. Department of Justice in combination with the House Ethics Committee over allegations of violations of campaign finance laws.
Hunter is denying the claims, but this is not the first time that the five-term politician has come under fire for suspected finance mismanagement. In April of last year, the Federal Elections Commission sent a letter to Hunter’s office informing him that he had failed to properly disclose some $1,302 in expenses that were tracked as payments made for his son’s video game habit.
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Hunter reimbursed the funds relatively quickly, but his troubles were only just beginning. According to a recent story published in the Los Angeles Times, Hunter has been allegedly caught using hundreds of thousands of additional campaign funds for his personal pleasure.
Flying bunnies, Trips to Italy, and other Hunter accusations
Accusations of impropriety include spending more than $5,000 in gasoline expenses for personal travel and over $7,000 in groceries and other minor expenditures that include purchases made to a Disneyland gift shop. He’s even accused of charging personal family vacations to Italy and Hawaii on the congressional credit card.
Hunter’s office has even confirmed as recently as January 2017 that he “accidentally” charged a $600 fee for flying a pet bunny on one of those trips, money that has also since been repaid. According to Hunter, he mistakenly assumed that since he was using frequent flyer miles, no additional “bunny fees” would apply.
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On Thursday, the House Ethics Committee agree to suspend their investigation to defer to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) who has now taken the lead. Hunter’s lawyers, Elliot Berke and Gregory Vega, have issued the following statement on the Congressman’s behalf.
"Congressman Hunter intends to cooperate fully with the government on this investigation, and maintains that to the extent any mistakes were made they were strictly inadvertent and unintentional."
The story would be funny and perhaps even somewhat excusable if Rep. Duncan hadn’t made such a nasty habit of mixing up his personal and congressional credit cards time and time again. The sheer number of alleged violations is making it very difficult for The Vaping Congressman to plead “inadvertent and unintentional” misuse of over $60,000 in campaign funds.
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