The House Ethics Committee has extended its investigation into whether Tennessee Republican Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. misused $100,000 from campaign and leadership PAC funds on personal expenses – including baby showers and wedding showers at a country club – as detailed in a new report made public Wednesday.
The 57-page report from the Office of Congressional Ethics, a nonpartisan ethics entity, recommended that the committee conduct further review of Duncan and his family’s use of campaign funds for their own vacations and expenses.
Duncan, the longest-serving Tennessean in Congress, announced last year he will not seek reelection for his seat.
Duncan denied the accusations, saying in a statement that he has “never personally taken one penny out of my campaign account for personal or family expenses.”
“The staffer for the OCE prepared a report on my campaign spending that is so false and misleading that it is almost ludicrous,” his statement added. “She has made a ridiculous accusation that I ‘may’ have converted a very large amount of money to my personal use when practically all of it was spent buying meals for campaign workers, supporters, contributors, and constituents, many of whom I did not even know.”
The report says that Duncan spent $24,903.93 in personal travel, including one trip that cost $15,091 in December 2014 to Greenbrier Resort with “family and friends,” some of whom were campaign supporters – the same resort where the House and Senate GOP held their retreat this year
The report also revealed that since 2008, Duncan’s campaign committee has spent $11,917.32 on membership dues for a social club in Knoxville and $11,996.48 on private parties at the social club that may not have been political events.
The report also found that the club billed Duncan $11,996.48 for events at the club that weren’t political events, including $6,310.41 for bridal showers and engagement parties, $3,172.19 for baby showers, and $2,483.88 for other celebratory dinners.
When asked about the baby showers, Duncan told the OCE that his wife Lynn organized some baby showers, wedding showers, and other events “for various women who had supported us in campaigns, which I always thought that was a good thing to do because … I relied on my wife to help me with women.”
Lynn Duncan told the OCE that she would usually distribute gifts to “people that’ve helped in political campaigns over the years. And, everything. And if it’s somebody that’s been very active for us, then I say yes.”
The committee said in the it plans to continue investigating the matter. With the Ethics Committee’s extension of the probe into his spending, it’s likely he won’t be in office anymore when the investigation concludes.
“The Board finds that there is substantial reason to believe that Rep. Duncan’s campaign committee and leadership PAC expended funds that were not attributable to bona fide campaign or political purposes,” the report said. “Accordingly, the Board recommends that the Committee on Ethics further review the above allegation that Rep. Duncan converted campaign funds from the campaign committee or the leadership PAC to personal use in violation of House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law.”
CNN’s Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.