- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A watchdog group urged federal investigators Tuesday to consider further misconduct charges against Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, amid claims he paid for his children’s school lunches with campaign funds.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington called for a broader investigation in light of a report published last week in the San Diego Union-Tribune that accused Mr. Hunter’s campaign of misspending $1,300 at a restaurant in California in 2015 and 2016.

The restaurant delivers to the El Cajon private school attended by the congressman’s three children, and all of the payments were made during the academic year while he worked in Washington, the paper said. Mr. Hunter’s camp declined to weigh in on the report.

The congressman’s campaign became the target of federal auditors this year when similar accusations came to light, and the latest report has prompted the watchdog to ask the Office of Congressional Ethics and the Federal Election Commission to consider the latest claims.

“There is a growing series of payments made by the Hunter campaign involving the school his children attend,” Jordan Libowitz, communications director for the watchdog group, said in a statement. “It’s hard to believe that’s a coincidence.”

The letters urge the Office of Congressional Ethics and the FEC to consider the latest claims concerning the potential school lunch payments in addition to previous accusations. 

Mr. Hunter’s campaign was asked in April for an explanation after the Union-Tribune reported that his campaign had paid $1,302 to a computer game company. At the time, a spokesman for the lawmaker deferred blame to the congressman’s teenage son. Amid mounting accusations of misspending, however, the representative said this week that Mr. Hunter’s office will stop explaining individual expenses.

“The Union-Tribune has been told no less than a dozen times, maybe more, that Rep. Hunter is conducting an independent audit for all of 2015, and will act on its recommendations,” spokesman Joe Kasper told the newspaper. “All anybody of integrity can do is take responsibility and resolve the problem.”

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