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Congressman may have misused $100,000 in campaign funds

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WASHINGTON — A Republican congressman from Tennessee may have improperly converted more than $100,000 from his campaign committee and leadership political action committee into personal use over the past decade, according to an independent ethics office that asked the House Ethics Committee to review the matter.

The conclusions from the Office of Congressional Ethics on Rep. John Duncan Jr. were released Wednesday by the House Ethics Committee, which says it’s continuing to review the matter.

The office says about one-quarter of the questionable spending came in the form of travel, including a three-night trip to West Virginia’s Greenbrier resort by Duncan, his family and campaign supporters who were personal friends. The Office of Congressional Ethics found that the 2014 trip primarily was recreational. The office investigates complaints from the public, but only the House Ethics Committee has the power to punish a lawmaker for wrongdoing.

Duncan, 70, has already announced that he will not seek re-election. He is in his 16th term representing a Knoxville-based congressional district that is considered a safe Republican seat.

Lawyers representing Duncan disputed the OCE’s findings and said the expenses in question were for “bona fide campaign or political purposes.” Duncan’s lawyers called on the Ethics Committee to dismiss the matter.

“He did not knowingly act in a way that was illegal, inappropriate or questionable in the context of commonly understood ethical behavior,” Duncan’s lawyers told the committee.

The attorneys also said Duncan’s campaign committee reported to the FEC all of the expenses at issue. But to avoid any appearance of impropriety, he has voluntarily reimbursed his campaign for certain expenses.

The House Ethics Committee generally must release the OCE’s recommendations within 90 days. That deadline was Wednesday with the committee noting that the release of the OCE’s report or its own continued review does not itself indicate any violations of House rules or federal law occurred.

In addition to citing the Greenbrier trip, the OCE said it identified travel, private club dues, wedding and baby showers, personal cellphones and family meal expenses “that were not attributable to bona fide campaign or political purposes.”

Using campaign funds for personal expenses is prohibited under federal election law.

The ethics office concluded: “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.”

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'UK should be free' Liam Fox issues last second warning about EU dictating Brexit terms

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FORMER Trade Secretary Liam Fox warned the EU over dictating the future trading arrangements with the UK once the transition period ends.

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Trump says he’ll probably name Supreme Court pick Friday or Saturday

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Monday that he will probably announce his Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday or Saturday.

“I’m going to make a decision on either Friday or Saturday. I will announce it either Friday or Saturday,” Trump said in a phone interview on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.”

Trump said he wants to make the announcement once funeral services for Ginsburg, who died Friday at age 87, are over. He also said he wants the Senate to hold a confirmation vote for the nominee before the Nov. 3 election.

The president said there are “actually five I’m looking at — it’s down to five,” he said about his potential picks. He appeared to confirm that Judge Barbara Lagoa, of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, is among the choices.

“She’s excellent, Hispanic. She’s a terrific woman from everything I know,” Trump said when asked about her. “I don’t know her. … Florida. We love Florida. So very smart — they’re all very smart.”

Asked if politics will be a factor in his final decision, he said, “I try not to say so,” but he said it “probably automatically” becomes one even if that’s not his intention.

“We tend to go young, and I think in almost all cases, you could have somebody be on the bench for 40 or 50 years,” he said. “We’re looking for somebody who’s brilliant, really understands the law and abides by the Constitution, and a good person, we’re looking for a good person.”



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Boris Johnson lockdown update: When is Boris Johnson next giving speech on lockdown?

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BORIS JOHNSON is facing backlash today for his absence from the coronavirus briefing delivered by Government advisers Sir Patrick Vallance and Professor Chris Whitty. But when will the PM next deliver a speech about lockdown?

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