“With two indictments of House Republicans, the once simmering culture of corruption fostered by Washington Republicans has reached a roaring boil,” said DCCC Spokesman Tyler Law. “This includes two indictments, special prosecutor, insider trading, tax cuts for yachts and shady foreign loans, failing to disclose sketchy businesses, and much more. Vulnerable House Republicans across the country will soon stand for re-election with the dark cloud of scandal and corruption hanging over their heads.”
Duncan Hunter (CA-50)
- Yesterday, Duncan Hunter was indicted for alleged misuse of $250,00 worth of campaign funds for personal expenses and the filing of false campaign finance records.
- Hunter has a history of living large off his campaign donors, in the past he flew his pet rabbit across the country using campaign funds and charged a six-figure bar tab to the campaign.
San Diego Union Tribune: Rep. Duncan Hunter and wife indicted on fraud and campaign finance charges
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, and his wife, Margaret, were indicted Tuesday on dozens of criminal charges including wire fraud and campaign finance crimes.
The indictment, filed Tuesday in federal court in San Diego, accuses the couple of converting more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for personal expenses and filing false campaign finance records with the Federal Election Commission to cover up the true nature of the expenses.
LA Times: San Diego County Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife are indicted on campaign finance violations
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) and his wife, Margaret, were indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges they used $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use and filed false campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission to mask their actions.
The 48-page indictment details lavish spending from 2009 to 2016, including family vacations to Italy and Hawaii, home utilities, school tuition for their children, video games and even dental work. The San Diego Union-Tribune first identified the improper spending, triggering a federal investigation by the Justice Department.
To conceal the personal expenditures, family dental bills were listed as a charitable contribution to “Smiles for Life,” the government alleges. Tickets for the family to see “Riverdance” at the San Diego Civic Theatre became “San Diego Civic Center for Republican Women Federated/Fundraising,” according to the indictment. Clothing purchases at a golf course were falsely reported as golf “balls for the wounded warriors.” SeaWorld tickets worth more $250 were called an “educational tour.”
Press Telegraph: Duncan Hunter, who represents most of Temecula, indicted on campaign finance charges
“From flying his pet rabbit across the country to a six figure bar tab it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Duncan Hunter’s time living large off his campaign donors has ended in an indictment,” said Meredith Kelly, communications director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in a prepared statement.
“Hunter’s misuse of $250,000 worth of campaign funds for personal expenses and the filing of false campaign finance records is emblematic of the corruption and twisted priorities of today’s Republican Party.”
Credit: Newseum Front Pages
Credit: Newseum Front Pages
Vern Buchanan (FL-16)
- Vern Buchanan is a Member of the Ways and Means Committee and one of the richest Members of Congress. Buchanan’s net worth is, at a minimum, $80M.
- The tax bill Buchanan helped write would save him an estimated $2.1M on his taxes.
- The same day Buchanan voted to pass the tax bill he bought a 73-ft yacht valued at approximately $3.5M.
- New reporting shows that BMO Harris, a foreign bank that lobbied for the tax bill, gave Buchanan a $5M loan for the boat as it was lobbying for the bill. This loan has been identified as a potential conflict of interest.
Tampa Bay Times: Rep. Vern Buchanan stands to gain bigly from tax bill
Already one of the wealthiest lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Buchanan could become even wealthier after he and other Republicans muscled a sweeping rewrite of the U.S. tax code through Congress late last year that includes breaks for the real estate and automobile industries that generate most of his income.
Bradenton Herald: Report: Vern Buchanan bought yacht on the same day he voted for tax bill
A 2017 financial disclosure statement received by the Office of the Speaker on May 18 shows his corporation Aircraft Holding & Leasing LLC bought an Ocean Alexander boat worth between $1 million and $5 million on Nov. 16, 2017, the same day he and 226 other House Republicans voted in favor of its version of the tax bill. The final version of the bill was signed by President Donald Trump in late December.
Florida Politics: Foreign bank floated funds for Vern Buchanan’s yacht as it lobbied for tax reform
As reported by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, BMO Harris spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on tax reform lobbying by Tony Podesta while lawmakers were designing the TCJA, and the bank floated Buchanan the $5 million loan so he could get the new yacht around the same time.
Craig Holman, an ethics advocate at Public Citizen, told FCIR that the bank’s loans to Buchanan’s company pose a “particularly egregious” conflict of interest.
“It isn’t just business for Buchanan,” he said. “The loans grant Buchanan the luxuries of a personal jet and a yacht. It is very reasonable to assume those luxuries could well influence Buchanan’s official actions.”
Election Day is only a few short months away, and new scandals are piling up for House Republicans. Here’s a brief recap to keep you up to date with the latest from last few weeks alone.
WATCH NOW: DCCC Releases New Video on the Republican Culture of Corruption
Republicans in Congress have a major corruption problem. On November 6th, let's make sure they have an unemployment problem as well.
Posted by Democrats on Sunday, August 19, 2018
Rodney Davis (IL-13)
- The field director for Rodney Davis’ reelection campaign was arrested and charged with aggravated battery after becoming physically violent at a fundraiser for Davis’ opponent, Betsy Dirksen Londrigan
- The field director was filmed being belligerent and harassing Londrigan and her family before physically assaulting venue staff
- Davis and his campaign have still not answered as to whether they sent the staffer to the event
Illinois News Network: Congressional candidate: Campaign altercation wasn’t passion, it was provocation
Springfield Police say a worker from the campaign of Republican opponent Rodney Davis was likely drunk when he started shouting and pushing Londrigan’s husband and others at a local pub Wednesday.
The State Journal Register: Davis staffer arrested after altercation at Londrigan fundraiser
Washington Post: Staffer for Rep. Rodney Davis arrested after altercation at opponent’s fundraiser
Scott Taylor (VA-02)
- A special prosecutor is looking into allegations of voter fraud over signatures Taylor’s paid campaign staff gathered to place a third party candidate on the ballot in November
- 35 people whose signatures or those of their deceased loved ones appear on the ballot have signed affidavits that they never signed the petition
- A widow has come forward because her deceased husband’s name appears on the petitions
- Taylor withdrew from a previously agreed upon debate with the local TV public news station that broke the scandal because he is upset by their coverage
- The effort is now known to include the chair of the Virginia Beach Republican County and the Virginia Beach Sheriff
Richmond.com: More than 50 Virginia Beach sheriff’s employees signed to get independent on congressional ballot
The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office assisted Rep. Scott Taylor with a coordinated signature effort to get an independent spoiler candidate on the Nov. 6 ballot in his congressional race.
At least 50 deputies and civilian employees of the sheriff’s office, headed by Sheriff Ken Stolle, a Republican, signed petition forms at work in June as Taylor’s campaign scrambled to help collect the 1,000 signatures that independent candidate Shaun Brown would need to be listed on the ballot. Stolle is an ally of Taylor, R-2nd.
[…] Taylor now finds himself immersed in a ballot fraud scandal after at least 35 people came forward to say their name or that of a dead relative had been forged on petitions for Brown. Colin Stolle, the Virginia Beach commonwealth’s attorney and younger brother of Sheriff Stolle, asked for a special prosecutor to investigate whether laws were broken.
Virginian Pilot: Rep. Taylor drops out of debate as Democrats file suit to block to Shaun Brown from 2nd Congressional District ballot
U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor has withdrawn from a planned WHRO-sponsored Oct. 23 debate with Democratic candidate Elaine Luria because he is upset with the station’s news coverage of a controversy involving his campaign staff helping an independent candidate get on the ballot, WHRO president Bert Schmidt said Monday.
WHRO’s radio affiliate WHRV-FM first reported that Taylor campaign workers helped Shaun Brown collect petitions and produced a second radio report about invalid signatures.
… According to Schmidt, Taylor, a Virginia Beach Republican seeking a second two-year term, told him in a phone call last week that he was backing out of the WHRO’s debate because of its coverage of the claims of false signatures. Schmidt said Monday he defended their coverage, saying it was fair and factual.
Chris Collins (NY-27)
- Collins was arrested and indicted earlier this month by the FBI for insider trading charges for participating in a scheme to sell the shares of an Australian biotech company before the public disclosure of a failed drug trial
- Collins was tipped off that the company, where he was on the board of directors, had failed the trial while at the White House Congressional Picnic in June 2017
- He has since suspended his bid for Congress
Washington Post: New York congressman facing insider trading charges suspends reelection bid
Indicted Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) announced Saturday that he would not run for reelection this fall as he battles federal charges for insider trading.
“After extensive discussions with my family and my friends over the last few days, I have decided that it is in the best interest of the constituents of NY-27, the Republican Party and President Trump’s agenda for me to suspend my campaign for re-election to Congress,” he wrote in a statement posted on his official Twitter account.
Federal prosecutors on Wednesday charged Collins with providing his son, Cameron, nonpublic information about drug trial results for a biotechnology company, Innate Immunotherapeutics, where he sat on the board of directors. Cameron Collins and several others allegedly used the information to avoid more than $700,000 in losses to their own stock holdings.
The Hill: Collins used campaign funds to pay for legal services for more than a year
Indicted Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) spent more than $200,000 in campaign funds since mid-2017 to pay the law firm defending him against securities fraud and insider trading charges, Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings show.
Collins’s campaign paid law firm Baker Hostetler almost monthly for legal services related to the ethics inquiries into Collins, a spokesman for the lawmaker’s legal team told The Hill.
[…] It’s not illegal to use campaign funds to pay for legal fees. But the revelation is likely to fuel criticism of Collins by political opponents heading into the November midterm elections.
CNN: Collins’ indictment creates another battleground — and another midterms headache — for House GOP
Rep. Chris Collins’ indictment on insider trading charges Wednesday morning has turned yet another safe Republican seat into a potential battleground in November’s midterm elections.
The charges — stemming from Collins’ actions while at a congressional picnic at the White House last year — led the House GOP’s campaign arm to distance itself from Collins and what could be an unfolding ethics scandal.
NBC: Democrats blast GOP ‘culture of corruption’ after indictment of Rep. Chris Collins
John Culberson (TX-07)
- Culberson sold all his shares of the Australian biotech shares at the center of Collins’ indictment just 10 days before it crashed
- Culberson has refused to answer questions relating to these purchase
Houston Chronicle: Houston congressman sold biotech stock 10 days before insider trading case came to a head
Ten days before the crash of an obscure Australian biotech stock at the center of Wednesday’s federal indictment of New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins, Houston Republican John Culberson quietly sold all his shares.
Though the congressman lost $9,194 on the deal last year, the transaction would prove to be a fortuitous financial move, something he said he did “simply to cut my losses.”
The Innate Immunotherapeutics stock, which Culberson sold on June 12, 2017 at about AU$7.35 a share, was worth less than five cents a share two weeks later on news of a failed clinical test for an experimental drug to treat multiple sclerosis.
Texas Tribune: 2 Texas congressmen bought stock in company at center of insider trading case against New York congressman
Houston Chronicle: EDITORIAL: Thumbs
[Thumbs down] Emu attacks and adorable Koalas aside, Australia doesn’t usually make the news for Houstonians. But this week, Down Under was mentioned above the fold when it was reported that Houston’s U.S. Rep. John Culberson sold an obscure Australian biotech stock 10 days before it crashed. New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins was indicted on insider trading charges for his own involvement in the investment scheme. Culberson’s campaign has no comment, but sometimes it feels like our representatives treat their time in D.C. a bit like an Outback Steakhouse: No rules, just right.
Jason Lewis (MN-02)
- Recently released tapes from Lewis’ days as a radio host have revealed that Lewis made many offensive and disparaging comments about women, people of color, Americans with disabilities, and other minority groups
- Lewis has doubled down on these remarks, refusing to apologize for the offense he has caused and saying, ‘I was paid to be provocative’
City Pages: Minnesota Rep. Jason Lewis equates gay couples to rapists
Star Tribune: Lewis again grapples with fallout from old on-air remarks
U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, facing renewed criticism over remarks about women and minorities from his previous career as a conservative talk radio host, is headed into a tough battle to hold onto his Minnesota congressional seat in a political climate stirred up by the MeToo movement.
[…] Lewis, who has declined interview requests to talk about CNN’s latest reports, responded with the same explanation he offered in 2016 when similar comments surfaced: that hosting a political radio show required a provocative approach.
CNN: GOP Rep. Jason Lewis called people on government assistance ‘parasites,’ said blacks on welfare ‘plantation’
CNN: GOP congressman said blacks have ‘entitlement mentality’ and view themselves as victims
Newsweek: Who is Jason Lewis? Republican congressman can’t believe men can’t call women ‘sluts’ anymore
Marty Nothstein (PA-07)
- Candidate Marty Nothstein is under investigation for allegations of sexual misconduct
- Nothstein was placed on unpaid level from his position as executive director of the Lehigh Valley velodrome after the board was notified he was the subject of a sexual misconduct allegation
Allentown Morning Call: Lehigh Valley velodrome board put Pennsylvania congressional candidate Marty Nothstein on leave after sexual misconduct allegation
The unspecified misconduct claim was lodged with a U.S. Olympic-related organization and dates to an alleged incident from about 2000, the year Nothstein won an Olympic gold medal, according to a velodrome board email reviewed by reporters.
[…] The alleged misconduct may have occurred at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown, according to a February email to the board from Andy Ralston, then board president, that was recently reviewed by reporters.
The velodrome, run by a nonprofit, is owned by Lehigh County and receives taxpayer money for maintenance costs as part of a public park.
The probe, as well as the board’s vote, have not been previously reported and come after a three-month investigation by The Morning Call.
Scott Sturgill (FL-07)
- Multiple reports suggest that Republican candidate Scott Sturgill has paid thousands of dollars to an Infowars contributor and hate group member
Mother Jones: GOP Candidates Are Paying Firms Affiliated With Infowars Contributor
Two Republican congressional candidates from Florida have paid thousands of dollars to companies affiliated with a contributor to Infowars—the far-right media empire run by Alex Jones that is best known for promoting outlandish conspiracy theories. In the past, Jones has used the platform to suggest that the US government helped carry out the 9/11 terrorist attacks and that the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, was a “giant hoax.” In fact, Infowars is so extreme that some of its content was recently banned by Facebook, Apple, YouTube, and Spotify; Jones himself was recently suspended from Twitter.
According to Federal Election Commission records, the two Republican candidates—Scott Sturgill and Brad Sostack—made payments to companies associated with Jacob Engels, who identifies himself as an Infowars contributor and has made multiple appearances on Infowars broadcasts. Engels also has ties to the Proud Boys, a far-right men’s fraternal group that describes itself as a “Western chauvinist” organization. The Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed the Proud Boys a “hate group,” a label the Proud Boys reject.
Sturgill, who is running for the GOP nod to take on Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D) in the Orlando-based 7th Congressional District, is backed by the National Republican Congressional Committee, the DC-based organization tasked with helping elect Republicans to Congress. Sostack is hoping to unseat Charlie Crist (D), the state’s former governor, who now represents the 13th District, which includes Clearwater and St. Petersburg.
Orlando Weekly: A Central Florida political forum was canceled after people found out one of the hosts was affiliated with the alt-right ‘Proud Boys’
A planned social media forum at this week’s annual Political Salsa, a private “non-partisan political mixer” for Central Florida candidates, has been canceled after one of the hosts was discovered to have connections with the “Proud Boys” alt-right group.
Last year, the group was part of the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally, which resulted in the murder of Heather Heyer at the hands of a white supremacist.