By Associated Press - Tuesday, February 20, 2018

WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee confirmed Tuesday that it’s investigating Republican Rep. John Duncan Jr., of Tennessee, who is serving his 16th term in the House and had previously announced he won’t seek re-election.

The committee’s announcement on Tuesday that it has decided to extend its review is the first public acknowledgement of any investigation. The review was prompted by a referral in January from the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics.

The Ethics Committee didn’t say why it is investigating Duncan. But Duncan came under fire in early July after a Knoxville website reported that he paid his son $300,000 for campaign work in the years after the younger man pleaded guilty to misconduct in office. The congressman told the Knoxville News Sentinel that he paid John Duncan III to head his political operations and perform work ranging from putting up yard signs to fundraising.

The committee’s Republican chairman and ranking Democratic member cautioned that the extension and public acknowledgement of the review does not itself indicate any violation has occurred.

Duncan’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Also known as “Jimmy,” the congressman is a lawyer who served as a state trial judge before entering Congress. The 70-year-old Duncan was first elected to Congress in a 1988 special election to replace his father, John Duncan Sr., who had cancer and died in June of that year. He represents a district in the Knoxville area that is considered a safe Republican seat.

The Ethics Committee is required to publicly acknowledge a referral from the OCE within 45 days.

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