Tennessee GOP lawmaker under review by Ethics Committee

Tennessee GOP lawmaker under review by Ethics Committee
© Greg Nash

The House Ethics Committee publicly revealed for the first time on Tuesday that it is reviewing allegations against Rep. John DuncanJohn James DuncanLive coverage: Social media execs face grilling on Capitol Hill Governor's race grabs spotlight in Tennessee primaries Election Countdown: Trump jumps into Ohio special election fight | What to watch in Tennessee primaries | Koch network freezes out Republicans who crossed them | Dead heat in Texas, Nevada Senate races | How celebs are getting into the midterms MORE (R-Tenn.).

The panel did not specify the allegations against Duncan, who has served in the House since 1988 and is not seeking reelection this year.

But the Knoxville News Sentinel reported last summer that Duncan’s campaign paid his son, John Duncan III, nearly $300,000 over several years after the younger Duncan pleaded guilty to a felony charge of official misconduct.

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The Tennessee lawmaker denied wrongdoing and said that the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent watchdog that refers cases to the House Ethics Committee, had reviewed all of his campaign expenditures in the last decade. 

"Every expenditure I have ever made out of my campaign funds has been done to help me politically and to assist in my campaigns. That is what campaign funds are for. I have never taken one penny personally other than to pay for meals when I was eating with campaign workers, supporters, or constituents visiting Washington. This is perfectly legal," Duncan said in a statement.

"Thanks to a great staff and all the campaign work my family has done over the years, I have been able to run some of the cheapest Congressional campaigns in this Country. I am confident the Ethics Committee will resolve this matter in my favor," Duncan added.

The House Ethics Committee will announce its next course of action by April 4. If the panel doesn't decide to formally open an investigation at that point, it will have to release an investigative report conducted by the OCE.

While the OCE can make recommendations, only the Ethics Committee has the power to punish lawmakers for wrongdoing.