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This Vet-Turned-Congressman’s Pet Rabbit Improperly Racked Up $600 In Campaign Travel Expenses
Rep. Duncan Hunter used campaign funds to pay for $600 of airline fees to fly a pet 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 bunny 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 timing of 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.
Use of campaign funds for personal benefit is prohibited by federal law, as it might give undue influence to contributors. Most of Hunter’s campaign funds come from defense and transportation companies whose business is affected by committees upon which he serves.
In the Press-Enterprise, Kasper criticized the as-yet-unreleased ethics office report on Hunter, saying “findings or implications are significantly misrepresented or even exaggerated.”
As an example, Kasper mentioned the rabbit transportation fees — which were apparently charged to the campaign credit card by mistake, instead of using airline miles racked up on the campaign dime.
“(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.
“This was nothing more than an oversight. In fact, it’s such an obvious example of a mistake being made but (the office) wants to view it through a lens of possible intent,” Kasper said. “The same goes for many other expenditures. Many of Rep. Hunter’s repayments had to do with mistakes under specific circumstances, and in other cases there were bona fide campaign activities connected to expenditures that (the office) was not aware of and didn’t account for.”
Hunter has previously explained problems with campaign spending that included the campaign charge card being blue and therefore confused with a more appropriate card.
The congressman has repaid more than $6,000 to United Airlines for personal or undocumented uses of campaign funds. His accounting of the repayments did not itemize pet travel costs.
© 2017 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Known for acting on impulse, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach to whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.
After state-owned Saudi Aramco's plants were struck on Saturday, Trump didn't wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran.
But four days later, Trump has no timetable for action. Instead, he wants to wait and see the results of investigations into what happened and is sending Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week.
That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.
After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein transformed into the Cigarette Smoking Man from "The X-Files" on Tuesday when explaining why UFO enthusiasts should avoid storming the mythical Area 51 installation in Nevada.
"All joking aside, we're taking it very seriously," Goldfein told reporters during the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. "Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected. The people deserve to have our nation's secrets protected."
SAN DIEGO — A San Diego-based Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in a closely watched war crimes trial this summer has filed a lawsuit against two of his former attorneys and a military legal defense nonprofit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas on Friday.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — The Air Force is reviewing whether some airmen's valor awards deserve to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor, Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said on Tuesday.
Goldfein revealed that several airmen are being considered for the nation's highest military award during a press conference at the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. He declined to say exactly who could receive the Medal of Honor, pending the outcome of the review process.