During an investigation of California Rep. Duncan Hunter's campaign expenses, the House Office of Congressional Ethics allegedly uncovered that the Republican lawmaker had used $600 in campaign funds to cover airfare expenses for his family's rabbit.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Hunter's office said this week the Office of Congressional Ethics would be disclosing the expenses for his pet, calling it an example of over-reach by the agency.
“[The office] has in their report $600 in campaign expenditures for in-cabin rabbit transport fees,” said Joe Kasper, a spokesman for Hunter. “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.”
Hunter has reimbursed his campaign about $49,000 after a review said expenses were described as inappropriate or made in error. Those expenses included charges for groceries, fast food and items from a trip Hunter took to Italy.
Use of campaign funds for personal benefit is illegal.
“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. The same goes for many other expenditures,” Kasper said. “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 said some of the mischarges were because the campaign card looked similar to his personal credit card.
Earlier this week, GOP lawmakers considered gutting the Office of Congressional Ethics until the move was the subject of widespread backlash from constituents and criticized by President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE.
Kasper defended the changes, telling the Associated Press, "concerns are strong enough that it nearly prompted a significant structural change."