The House Ethics Committee said Thursday it is continuing an investigation into possible ethics violations by Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., following an inquiry launched by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.
The ethics panel did not disclose the nature of the investigation, but a Washington-based watchdog group filed a complaint last spring alleging that Hunter improperly used campaign funds to pay for tens of thousands of dollars in personal expenses such as trips to Hawaii and Italy and tuition for Hunter's school-age children.
Hunter, 40, won a fifth term last month representing the San Diego area.
A spokesman for Hunter called the ethics announcement standard procedure and said Hunter has already reimbursed the campaign committee about $49,000.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Wednesday that Hunter made the payment last month after securing a loan from a family acquaintance who was convicted of murder after shooting to death a business partner who was having an affair with his wife in the 1970s. Hunter was unaware of that history, and the broker said it was irrelevant to the loan, the newspaper reported.
Noah Bookbinder, executive director of the watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said he was glad the ethics panel was taking up the investigation and said he hopes the public announcement "means this will be a serious investigation."
The ethics panel said its announcement does not reflect a judgment that a violation has occurred.