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Fallen hero: ‘Vaping congressman’ Duncan Hunter indicted for corruption

The vapes industry had such high hopes for Rep. Duncan Hunter from California after he started puffing away on his trusty box mod during a congressional hearing on airplane vaping.  He seemed like the type of politician that might help overturn the FDA deeming regulations that still threaten to wipe out the entire industry in the next couple of years.  Vaping advocates and enthusiasts around the country admired his spunk, and very soon Hunter was given the nickname The Vaping Congressman. 

Shortly after the video of his congressional vaping antics started circulating on social media, news began to leak that Hunter was under scrutiny for illegally using campaign contributions for personal expenses.  Rumors that he used his political credit card to purchase video games for his son were quickly followed by stories that he had also used these same campaign funds to jettison his family’s pet rabbit cross country and take family vacations to Italy and Hawaii.  The stories seemed too ridiculously outrageous that they couldn’t possibly be true, right?

The slow, political implosion of Duncan Hunter

Outrageous or not, Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife Margaret were both indicted yesterday for illegally converting $250,000 in campaign funds into their own personal slush fund and for “mischaracterizing” these expenses to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).  Along with the rabbit and video games expenses are allegations that the Hunter clan used these funds to illegally purchase family dental services while misrepresenting the related expenses as charitable contributions for Smiles for Life in their FEC filings.  He allegedly even spent $3300 on In-N-Out burgers. 

“According to the indictment, the Hunters knew that many of their desired purchases could be made only by using campaign funds, since they did not otherwise have sufficient personal funds to pay for their purchases,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office per Fox News.

Related Article:   GOP Duncan Hunter Vapes during Congressional meeting

News of the indictment would have been front page news in normal circumstances, but Hunter’s debacle was announced right in the midst of the Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort revelations related to the Trump.  At around the same time, news broke that the jury in the Manafort trial came back with 8 counts of guilty, and since he is Trump’s former campaign manager, this news “trumped” Hunter’s. 

Moments later, Michael Cohen – Trump’s personal lawyer of over ten years – pleaded guilting of conspiring to influence the 2016 Election “at the direction” of Donald Trump.  So, again, Hunter’s corruption charges were relegated to the background of the news cycle.

House Majority Leader Paul Ryan called the Hunter allegations “deeply serious” and has removed the Vaping Congressman from all committee assignments.  Yet strangely, Duncan Hunter, Sr. – the congressman’s father, somehow found a way to blame Hillary Clinton for his son’s actions.  In an interview with Roll Call just hours ago, Hunter Sr. made the following statement.

“The Democrat attorneys who went to Hillary Clinton’s fundraisers before they did this know they had all the records on my son a year and a half ago.  Now they are waiting until a few weeks before the election when it’s going to be very hard to get a trial finished and clear his name.”

This is not the first hero of the vaping community that has proven a severe disappointment, and it will surely not be the last.  As the midterm elections draw ever closer, vapers are finding themselves in a political conundrum.

Should they continue to support a Republican Party overwrought with corruption and which has failed miserably in the past two years to provide any substantial relief, as promised, from the FDA deeming regulations?  Or should they switch to the Democrats, the party of the vaping-hating Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Richard Blumenthal?

Related Article:   Vaping Congressman faces new allegations of 'steam gamer' misconduct

(Image courtesy of Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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