No committee, no problem for Duncan Hunter

Rep. Duncan Hunter leaves a federal court hearing. /KPBS screenshot

Turns out when you’re indicted for massive campaign finance fraud, it ain’t so bad.

Having been prohibited by House Republican leadership from ever having another committee assignment — committee work is a major facet of congressional time and power — U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Vape Hut) has a lot more time to do what he loves most, promote vaporizing, hang out with the Bro Caucus at the afternoon drinking holes, and otherwise walk around the Capitol pretending to be a legitimate person.

Collins to the left, Hunter to the right/File

Being tossed into the congressional trash bin of no-committees-for-you Washington life, along with fellow first Donald Trump supporting grifter Chris Collins, indicted for insider trading, and renowned fellow racist Steve King, means Hunter has more time to pretend to file legislation, maybe take down some more student art he doesn’t like from the Capitol art gallery and otherwise make racist comments or defend military war criminals on trial in San Diego.

In other words, the party will continue, at least until Hunter and his thrown-under-bus wife Margaret face a federal judge on Sept. 10. In case you’ve forgotten the case number, Grapevine friend Rebecca Schoenkopf, otherwise known for her political savvy as “Wonkette,” sums up the sitch:

“The guy is under indictment for stealing $250,000 from his own campaign. He spent donated funds to take his girlfriends on vacation and used the campaign credit card to buy clothes, which he later claimed were ‘[golf] balls for the wounded warriors,’ allegedly. He got drunk with his pals in the Bro Caucus, sometimes over lunch, and ran up a $138,666 bar tab, paid for by the campaign. And besides that, he’s a bigoted asshole!”

Hunter likes vaping like Brett Kavanaugh likes beer

Hunter started off the week in grand fashion on something called “Vape Juice Guru” whose slogan reads “Vape Wisely” and posts in ultra-large lettering on the top of its website “WARNING: This Site Sells Products Containing Nicotine. Nicotine Is An addictive Chemical.”

Vape Juice Guru re-posted one of Hunter’s previous greatest hits, a May, 2017 special appearance on “Regulator Watch,” whatever that is. For the record, the 2-year-old interview had accumulated 866 views so far. Unfortunately, Vape Juice Guru was too busy vaping with something special, since it addressed a failed piece of legislation once proposed by Hunter.

Lest we forget, the only sole legislation of any significance passed by Hunter was what he termed “a sarcastic” amendment to the Department of Defense annual authorization bill. The measure requiring women to register for the Selective Service passed with Hunter voting against his own proposal.

“The House Armed Services Committee took a big and unexpected step toward making women register for the draft as a handful of Republicans joined Democrats on Wednesday night to back a measure whose own sponsor hoped would fail,” according to The Washington Post.

As the New York Times said, “Representative Duncan D. Hunter, Republican of California, introduced the initial amendment to expand the draft to women in April 2016, but voted against it. Mr. Hunter introduced it to ‘force the conversation’ in Congress about the administration’s new policy, said his chief of staff, Joe Kasper.”

Female soldiers carry out a ruck march in 2011 at Fort Bragg, N.C., during the Cultural Support Assessment and Selection program, which identified women to serve alongside elite U.S. soldiers with U.S. Army Special Operations Command in cultural support teams in war zones/Staff Sgt. Russell Klika

Unfortunately, Hunter’s only major piece of legislation was stripped from the final bill, so rest easy young women, no draft registration for you.

Back to vaping, the vaping guru said, “..vaping is going to be illegal if the current regulations stand. That right there is enough that it should make every single vaper want to do something about this.

“The FDA needs to stop trying to place heath-based regulations on something that they know nothing about. It is beginning to be a situation where a nudge and a mention of financial interests is enough to close down thousands of small businesses. This is absolutely nonsense.

“As Duncan Hunter talks about the way he plans to move forward with bills that remove a grandfathered date and to stop the regulation of flavors, I start to feel like it’s actually going to be okay. Then, I get furious when I see countless people that owe their lives to vaping, stand by the sidelines and watch uninformed people make decisions that will ultimately destroy the vaping community as we know it, and they do nothing. They act as if there is no power in a vote, in a phone call, or in an email.

“It is time to make lawmakers nervous about their careers if they oppose vaping. They are trying to control us based on nothing more than greed and misinformation. It’s total bullshit.”

Que sera sera

Hunter greeted at federal court by supporter…of Ammar Campa-Najjar/Facebook

Hunter has been busy posting all sorts of messages on his taxpayer-funded web site. He made sure to salute “Sanctity of Human Life Day.” Guess that’s a thing. He made sure to boast about a bill he was sponsoring calling for “prohibiting federal funding for ‘sanctuary campuses.'”

Suppose that means he doesn’t want federal money going to San Diego, not surprising because he also supported the tax bill that took away California state income tax deductions from federal taxes.

Once again, all that freed-up committee time must give him all the more energy to take money from his consituents even as he awaits trial for you know.

Hunter found time to applaud Trump’s handling of his the government shutdown saying, “It would be my personal preference that any spending bill passed by Congress include specific funding for a border wall; it is proven effective and is imperative to any effort that involves substantive border security.”

Otherwise, Hunter seems to believe there is some problem with trial lawyers being paid too much in Clean Water Act cases. Who knows. Whatever will be, will be. Seems like a weird issue though.

Making the list

Hunter blowing smoke, er vapor, at a House Transportation Committee meeting, back when he was allowed to sit on a House committee/File

Handwriting, meet on-the-wall. Hunter this week made the list. The House Democrats’ campaign arm, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) announced it’ll initially focus on 33 GOP-held districts that range from key swing districts to districts that President Trump easily carried in 2016 but now may be within reach.

DCCC added Hunter and Collins to the hit list due to their very special federal indictment clause. Also added were other fun folk like King, obviously, and Devin Nunes.

“We have a clear path to expanding our Democratic Majority, and by putting our plans in motion earlier in the cycle than ever before, we are demonstrating to Democrats across the country that the political arm of House Democrats is operating in high gear from the start,” said DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (Ill.).

Chief beneficiary of DCCC larges will be Ammar Campa-Najjar who far outperformed predictions by falling just a few thousand votes short against Hunter in November 2018. Campa-Najjar already has announced his 2020 candidacy is

Campa-Najjar raised $4 million for the last election and had no DCCC assistance. He comes into 2020 with a head of steam and some handy cash.

As Bryan Schantz said in Mother Jones this week: “Both Nunes and Hunter are closely tied to Trump, and the California Republican Party is currently in the throes of an intraparty battle pitting its pro-Trump base against moderates who, as GOP consultant Mike Madrid puts it, see Trump as ‘an anchor around the neck of the party.

“While both Nunes and Hunter won their 2018 reelection bids, they also faced the hardest races of their congressional careers. Fresno prosecutor Andrew Janz came within 6 points of ousting Nunes. And Ammar Campa-Najjar, a a 29-year-old businessman, took 48 percent of the vote in a blood-red district that has been represented by Hunter and his father for the past 40 years. Considering that Hunter won in 2016 by 27 percentage points, it was a shockingly close race.”

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