California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter is under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice for allegedly violating campaign finance regulations, the House Committee on Ethics announced Thursday.
The Justice Department asked the Ethics Committee to defer their own investigation into the matter, which voted to take up the investigation Wednesday, according to a press release.
The Ethics Committee took over the investigation into alleged abuse of campaign funds from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) in December, which had been investigating Hunter for several months, the Associated Press reported at the time.
“The Department of Justice has asked the Committee to defer consideration of this matter and the Committee, following precedent, unanimously voted on March 22, 2017, to defer consideration of this matter at this time” the committee said in its statement.
The press release was sent by ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Susan Brooks.
Hunter denies any wrongdoing in the matter, Politico reports.
The OCE reported in August, 2016, that Hunter may have spent campaign funds on “family travel, flights, utilities, health care, school uniforms and tuition, jewelry, groceries. and other goods,” which would be a violation House ethics rules and federal campaign finance laws.
Hunter, who was one of the first members of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for President, “intends to cooperate fully with the government on this investigation, and maintains that to the extent any mistakes were made they were strictly inadvertent and unintentional,” Hunter’s lawyers, Elliot Berke and Gregory Vega, said last year when the OCE began its investigation.
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