Rep. Duncan Hunter used campaign funds to pay for $600 of airline fees to fly a family rabbit, one of the more colorful expenses to surface in an ongoing review of his practices.
Hunter’s staff told the Press-Enterprise newspaper that the House Office of Congressional Ethics questioned the pet expenses — offered as an example of over-reach by the agency.
The ethics office’s independence was nearly clipped this week as one of the first orders of business for the GOP-controlled House, until President-elect Donald Trump and others questioned the move.
Critics saw the proposal as weakening an important check on legislative abuses of power. Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper defended the proposed procedural changes, according to the Press-Enterprise.
“The concerns are strong enough that it nearly prompted a significant structural change,” Kasper said.
The ethics office last year conducted a review of Hunter’s campaign expenses. Release of the report, and any follow-up action by the House Ethics Committee, was recently postponed pending swearing-in of the new Congress.
Hunter, R-Alpine, has reimbursed his campaign about $62,000 in campaign expenses that were personal in nature or lacked proper documentation, including oral surgery, a garage door, video games, resort stays and a jewelry purchase in Italy.
The expenses came to light after inquiries by the Federal Election Commission and The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Hunter then hired a law firm to conduct a review that has not been made public.
They wanted the office neutered because it actually raised questions about how our lawmakers enrich themselves on lobbyist cash on a daily basis. Embezzling tens of thousands is chump change for these guys and it would be so much easier if the office just went away, you know.
Oh, but keep in mind our incoming President is doing the same thing, only with several more zeroes at the end.