This Absurd Example Shows Why We Need A Congressional Ethics Committee

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Plans for the weakening of the Office of Congressional Ethics unearthed some shady dealings among members of congress and staff.

The decision to gut an ethics watchdog was made during a secret meeting under a proposal by Rep. Bob Goodlatte on Monday night. House Republicans voted for the proposal in which Congress would oversee itself - rather than allowing for a nonpartisan, independent entity - to review allegations of misconduct against members of the House of Representatives.

But, President-elect Donald Trump made his stance in opposition to the GOP very clear on his Twitter account, of course:

CREDIT: twitter

The planned proposal revealed cracks between the GOP and Paul Ryan, in addition to Donald Trump, and the ensuing public outcry quickly put the kebosh on Goodlatte's proposal until further notice.

A senior House GOP aide told CNN:

It's safe to say that Trump's tweets probably added to that pressure but it was already being heavily covered in the press.

The recently overturned proposal generated a renewed interest towards the Office of Congressional Ethics and members of congress. As a result, proponents of the plan were scrutinized and the OCE started some digging into their backgrounds.

CREDIT: politico

There was one person of interest who surfaced, and his suspicious dealings involved a rabbit.

A report from the committee revealed that Rep. Duncan Hunter used campaign funds to pay for the $600 plane ticket to fly the family rabbit.

Hunter's spokesman, Joe Kasper, cited the expense for flying the rabbit was an honest mistake, and that Hunter inadvertently charged the campaign's credit card.

(The office) has in their report $600 in campaign expenditures for in cabin rabbit transport fees. 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.

Duncan Hunter (CREDIT: cnn)

The OCE looked into the recent charge also because of Hunter's history on spending campaign funds for his personal use.

Hunter reimbursed his campaign to the tune of $62,000. Those included expenses that were of a personal nature including a garage door, Trader Joe's, Costco, Abercrombie & Fitch, Albertson's, a resort stay, video games, oral surgery, and jewelry purchased in Italy.

As for the airborne bunny's expense, Hunter claimed that he confused the blue campaign credit card for his personal card when purchasing the flight.

CREDIT: uproxx

Kasper said:

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. 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.

Details from the OCE report have yet to surface.

H/T - uproxx, cnn, sandiegouniontribune, twitter, latimes