Remember my post a few days ago about the sneaky, unsuccessful attempt of Republican House members to dismantle the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE)? At that time, I speculated that perhaps they had personal reasons for wishing to get rid of this committee. Well … I think I may have hit that nail on the head …
Take, for example, Representative Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California. He used campaign contributions for such things as $1,400 to a dentist, $1,400 for his children’s private-school lunch deliveries, $1,650 for their tuition, $961 at SeaWorld, $434 to Dick’s Sporting Goods, $229 at Disneyland, $217 to an Italian jewelry store, $361 to a surf shop, $1,200 for a garage door, $2,892 to an Arizona resort, $2,000 for a Thanksgiving trip to Italy and $1,302 worth of video games. Hunter, by the way, was among those who voted to dismantle the OCE on Monday night. Not only all that, but he also used $600 worth of campaign funds to take his children’s pet bunny on a commercial airplane. Surprised, aren’t you?
To add insult to injury, once caught with his figurative pants down, Hunter blamed everyone but himself, especially his local media, the San Diego Union-Tribune, which has been diligently reporting on the abuses. His excuses? Well, according to his chief of staff, Joe Kasper, it was nothing more than a series of innocent ‘mistakes’ in bookkeeping. Ahem.
Hawaiian resort expense came from a canceled fundraiser, he said; the Italian trip was for “an arrangement with the military overseas” that was canceled; the Italian jewelry purchase was mistakenly filed as “food and beverage”; video games were purchased by Hunter’s son accidentally because both the personal and campaign credit cards were the color blue.
Now, it isn’t bad enough that this man, a man who lies, cheats and steals, is in a position to make decisions that will affect our lives, but the man is also of such low moral character that he blames everyone under the sun, from his son to the media! His claim against the newspaper is that they are biased because they endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, and therefore cannot be trusted. Yet, he does not dispute the allegations made by the paper, as he secured a loan to repay his campaign more than $60,000 for the misused funds.
As disturbing as his dishonesty is, even more disturbing is his attempt to rationalize and shift blame, and most disturbing of all is that he blames the media. He has taken a page straight out of Trump’s playbook. On his Facebook page he wrote:
“In a speech right now, the President-elect is ripping the news media, calling them the “most dishonest people in the world.” That certainly goes for our once beloved The San Diego Union-Tribune and its clear bias in support of the liberal agenda. This is the same paper that endorsed Hillary Clinton and urged rejection of Prop C. And now it seems the UT is on a regular crusade against me–but like the President-elect says, who cares…it doesn’t matter. They deserve to know how irrelevant they’re becoming and how they’re viewed. Not only do I like what the President-elect is saying, I like even more how folks are responding.”
I read a few of the comments to his post, and in general people seemed to be supportive of Hunter. So, apparently his constituents have no problem with the fact that the man is not only dishonest, but is not even responsible enough to admit to his dishonesty. One commenter even said, “You are a beacon of light Duncan Hunter, out there in the land of a long ago leader and role model …Thank you for your strength and voice!” Feeling ill yet?
By the way … the loan Hunter arranged to reimburse his campaign for improper expenses? He obtained that from one Joseph Ignacio Salas, a friend of Hunter’s father. Salas was convicted in 1973 of the murder of his business partner who had been having an affair with his wife. Nice bunch of people, aren’t they?
The House Ethics Committee extended their review of Hunter and is expected to release their report in the near future. While a few “mistakes” would generally be overlooked, the number of abuses in personal spending of campaign funds by Hunter seem far in excess of what should be acceptable. If found guilty of abuse, he could be expelled by the House of Representatives, but given the Republican majority and the attitude we have seen in the past week, I don’t expect that to happen. I am reasonably certain that Hunter is not alone in his ethics violation, but thus far he is the only one that has been caught, at least as far as we know. So now we see why the Republican representatives tried so hard to dismantle the OCE.