An investigation by the House Office on Congressional Ethics revealed that Rep. Duncan Hunter' (R-CA) used political campaign funds to pay for airfare for his family's pet rabbit. A report by the Associated Press noted that Hunter said that the Office of Congressional Ethics was querulous about the expense. He said it is an example of over-reach by the office.
Republican legislators considered this week a plan to significantly curtail the powers of the office, prompting criticisms from President-elect Donald Trump and others, especially Democrats even though there are bipartisan concerns over the reach of the office. The reform of the office was quickly cancelled.
Speaking for Hunter, Joe Kasper was defensive about the changes contemplated by the abortive plan. Kasper said that "concerns are strong enough that it nearly prompted a significant structural change."
“(The office) has in their report $600 in campaign expenditures for in-cabin rabbit transport fees,” Kasper said. “Since travel is often done on (airline) miles – which is entirely permissible – the credit card connected to the account was charged several times even when his children were flying.”
After the ethics office reviewed his expenditures, Hunter reimbursed his campaign by approximately $49,000. The office judged that certain expenses charged to the campaign were either made in error or inappropriate. Among the questioned charges were expenses for fast-food purchases, groceries, and items purchased for a trip Hunter made to Italy. It is illegal under federal law to use campaign funds for personal benefit.
Hunter said that some of the mischarges occurred because his campaign charge card resembles his personal charge card. Kasper explained, according to AP, that some of Hunter's repayments were mistakes while others were for "bona fide campaign activities."
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