Nunes used political donations for $15K in NBA tickets, winery tours, Vegas trips: report

Rep. Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesPelosi sees defections from an unusual quarter — the left Jim Carrey targets McCarthy, Nunes ahead of midterms Police close Nunes district office as protesters rally outside MORE (R-Calif.) used political donations to pay for almost $15,000 in tickets for Boston Celtics games, winery tours and trips to Las Vegas, according to a McClatchy article published Thursday.

Nunes, who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, used money from his PAC to purchase Celtics tickets three times last year, according to McClatchy's analysis of reports from the Federal Election Commission and two watchdog groups.

His PAC, called New PAC, has also footed the bill for lavish Las Vegas events since 2013, spending a total of $42,741 on catering, rentals, hotels and meals, McClatchy reported.

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The most recent Las Vegas expenses were noted in March, when the group sent $7,229 at seven restaurants and hotels, McClatchy reported, adding that the PAC spent thousands at six wineries in Paso Robles and Santa Margarita, Calif.

The outlet also noted that the wineries are located outside of his congressional district. 

The PAC spent $5,000 one day on a limousine service. A separate $4,409 charge is listed for the Sea Venture, a beach hotel about 20 miles from Santa Margarita, McClatchy reported.

All of the transactions are listed as fundraising expenses, according to the article.

When asked about his PAC spending by a McClatchy reporter, Nunes replied, “I wish I could help you.”

Nunes's office later released a statement to The Hill.

"The report is yet another baseless attack by McClatchy. It insinuates wrongdoing while actually showing that Rep. Nunes has broken no rules and properly reported all expenses for his fundraising events, much of whose income he gives to help elect other Republicans," the statement said.

The House Ethics Committee prohibits the use of leadership PACs for personal use; however, lawmakers are rarely punished, McClatchy noted.

Campaign Legal Center and Issue One, a watchdog group, released a report on Thursday detailing how lawmakers on Capitol Hill use leadership PACs to pay for “lavish lifestyles.”

PACs are supposed to allow politicians to donate money to other campaigns; however, the new report estimates that only 45 percent of the money given to leadership PACs over the last three election cycles went to other candidates or committees.

--Updated at 1:39 p.m.