House ethics panel re-opens Hunter file

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) speaks to the media before a painting he found offensive and removed is rehung on the U.S. Capitol walls on January 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. The painting is part of a larger art show hanging in the Capitol and is by a recent high school graduate, David Pulphus, and depicts his interpretation of civil unrest in and around the 2014 events in Ferguson, Mo./Joe Raedle.Getty Images

Disgraced Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Vapeville) got zapped Friday, May 3 when the House Ethics subcommittee voted unanimously to reopen investigations into his congressional shenanigans.

The bipartisan committee, chaired by Rep. Grace Meng, D-New York, and including Reps. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, Brian Higgins, D-New York, and David Rouzer, R-North Carolina voted to re-authorize investigation subcommittees to look into allegations against Reps. David Schweikert, Chris Collins, and Duncan Hunter.

The vote to reopen the investigation was a predictable next step for the Democratically-controlled House after two of the three GOP lawmakers were reelected despite having been federally indicted., according to Dan Abrams’ Law & Crime production.

The House Ethics Subcommittee Just Made Things a Whole Lot Worse for Three GOP Congressmen

Law & Crime continued: “Hunter is a six-term congressman and former Marine from Apline, California who is slated for a Sept. 10 trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on charges that he and his wife, Margaret, stole $250,000 in campaign funds. The couple faces 60 federal charges, and are accused of siphoning campaign funds for hefty purchases at Abercrombie & Fitch, plastic surgery, vacations, nail salons, private school tuition, video games, and a $600 plane trip for the family’s pet rabbit.

“Hunter has denied wrongdoing, saying his wife handled all the finances.”

Democratic Rep. Grace Meng of New York will lead the subcommittee looking into Hunter.

The House will be checking to see whether his conduct violated its official code of conduct, but will be delaying its investigation until after the criminal trial ends.

While Hunter’s legal drama is playing out, he’s still reporting for duty on Capitol Hill and introducing bills, but isn’t serving on any congressional committees.

None of Hunter’s bills has ever reached a vote on the House floor.

The vaping congressman also has become involved with trying to circumvent military justice in the case of a Marine accused of committing multiple war crimes in Afghanistan along with staging a fake border wall crossing that would have violated the terms of his parole if he actually had done it.

In addition to Hunter, Law & Crime detailed his fellow travelers in the netherworld of indicted congressmen who barely were re-elected nonetheless.

US Representative Chris Collins (C), a Republican from the 27th Congressional District of New York, leaves US Federal Court in New York on August 8, 2018 after being indicted on insider trading – Collins, one of the first US lawmakers to declare support for Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy, was indicted by federal prosecutors Wednesday on charges of securities fraud connected to an alleged insider trading scheme./ TIMOTHY A. CLARY.AFP.Getty Images

Chris Collins

Collins, representing New York’s 27th Congressional district since 2013, gained notoriety as the first member of Congress to publicly endorse Donald Trump for president.  Collins also served on Trump’s transition team.

Collins is scheduled for trial in February of 2020 in federal court in New York for insider trading charges and lying to the FBI. Collins served on the board of Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech company; he is accused of providing non-public information to his son, Cameron Collins, who then sold nearly $1.4 million of the company’s stock.

Collins was reportedly overheard by reporters speaking into a cellphone in the halls of Congress, bragging, “Do you know how many millionaires I’ve made in Buffalo the past few months?”

House Ethics Chairman Ted Deutch will lead the investigative subcommittee inquiry into Collins, who faces insider trading charges stemming from his investment in an Australian biotech company. He’s due to go on trial on Feb. 3, 2020 in federal district court in New York City, according to Roll Call.

The indictment is tied to trades in the stock of Innate Immunotherapeutics, on whose board Collins served. A complaint filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Collins of gaining personal benefit and providing nonpublic information to his son, Cameron Collins, who sold nearly $1.4 million of the company’s stock.

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 29: Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

David Schweikert

Schweikert is an Arizona congressman who has served in Congress since 2011, and the only one of this trio who isn’t facing criminal charges at this time. However, Schweikert has been under investigation for over a year for misuses of campaign funds, including, specifically, funneling payments from his office budget to Oliver Schwab, his former chief of staff.

Through his spokesperson, Schweikert attributed any wrongdoing to simple bookkeeping discrepancies.

The subcommittee investigating allegations that Schweikert, an Arizona Republican, misused office resources and violated campaign finance rules will be led by Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota. Texas Republican Bill Flores will serve as ranking member.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, which referred the Schweikert case to House Ethics, found “substantial reason” to believe Schweikert authorized expenditures form his Members’ Representational Allowance, or MRA, that his former chief of staff, Oliver Schwab, made outside of the scope of permissible official expenses. OCE also recommended further review of allegations Schweikert failed to ensure his campaign committee followed the rules in accepting contributions from one of his congressional office employees that later were reimbursed from his official office account.

In December 2018, House Ethics Committee voted unanimously to expand the scope of its inquiry into Schweikert to include allegations that he may have used official resources to benefit his campaign and omitted required information from his annual House financial disclosure statements and Federal Election Commission candidate committee reports.

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