By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag
It appears that our own Rep. Duncan Hunter has pulled a “Trump-like” distraction in order to manipulate the press away from something else that was embarrassing. It’s a case of Animal House.
Donald Trump has become infamous for making tweets or taking efforts to manipulate the press that are often distractions to more questionable or controversial elements of his campaign and transition. For instance, his press conference on Wednesday, Jan. 11th – the first in 6 months – was a distraction to embarrassing and controversial statements by his cabinet nominees, whose hearings were being held at the very same day in Congress.
And now Hunter has pulled a rabbit out of his Trump hat.
On Friday, Jan. 6, Hunter pulled down an award-winning but controversial painting from a wall in a Capitol hallway. The painting depicts a street clash between police and protesters, most of whom are Black. The painting shows some police officers and protesters as animals.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus rehung it a few days later. And now Congressional Republicans are huddling trying to decide what to do.
The painting – which has been up for 6 months – was the winner of a high school students annual art competition and is one of hundreds that line the hallway – a block-long tunnel used by visitors and members of Congress to travel between the House office buildings and the Capitol.
Despite mainstream media accounts that stated that cops were painted as pigs, actually three police officers are depicted; one has the head of a wart-hog – the one with the gun – and one has the head of a horse, while the third is without an animal head. One protester has the head of black panther. Also in the painting, people hold signs that read “History,” “Justice Now” and “Racism Kills.” Reportedly, a conservative website recently made a stink about it.
Hunter’s chief of staff, Joe Kasper, acknowledged that the whole thing was a stunt “to draw attention of people ….”
Of course, Kasper meant that it was a manipulation to get the media’s attention, and shine a spot light on the painting.
But we’re calling this a distraction to other, more uglier things. About Duncan Hunter himself. The painting manever wasn’t a tweet, but it was a true Trumpian distraction.
What else could Duncan Hunter be trying to distract everybody from?
Oh, could it be that he wants to avoid media attention to the fact that he is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for spending campaign contributions on things and trips that appear to be personal in nature?
Between 2015 and 2016, Hunter spent nearly $49,000 worth of campaign contributions on groceries, on outdoor equipment stores, video games, a dentist, nail salon, a utility company, for a hotel in Italy and another at the Arizona Grand Resort, his children’s private school tuition and travel to Hawaii. Plus, $600 on transporting the family’s pet rabbit. Supposedly, Hunter has paid it all back (except for the rabbit?).
Spending campaign funds for personal purposes or benefits is a violation of Federal law, in order to protect against corrupting influences by donors. Hunter’s primary contributors are defense contractors and others with interests before committees on which he serves.
On Aug. 31, 2016, the Office of Congressional Ethics filed a complaint against Hunter with the Ethics panel, urging an investigation. Since then, the committee has been weighing whether to open an official probe.
And now the investigating panel said in a statement it had “decided to extend the matter,” signaling that lawmakers want more time to make that decision. Politico
A Washington D.C.-based nonprofit, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), had filed the complaint with the office in April 2016, pressing for an investigation into Hunter’s possible use of campaign money for personal benefit.
Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for CREW said the announcement was encouraging.
“We’re glad to see that they’re continuing to investigate him. There are a lot of very serious issues that we alleged in our complaints and the fact that they did not dismiss and are taking more time can always be seen as a good sign.”
Libowitz believes the office “found substantial reason to believe that Hunter violated the law.”
Naturally, Hunter’s office was more dismissive of the announcement of an extension of the investigation. “This is all standard process for OCE referrals,” Joe Kasper, Hunter’s chief of staff, told the Union-Tribune.
So what do you think? Is the Capitol caper over the painting simply a distraction?
Meanwhile, House Republicans are working overtime trying to have the painting removed through official channels.
Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) who along with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other members rehung the painting had this to say:
“I do not agree or disagree with the painting, but I will fight to protect this young man’s right to express himself.”
Clay’s district includes Ferguson, Mo., the city of the first major Black Lives Matter movement due to a police shooting of an unarmed Black man. Clay also said he tried to seek theft charges against Hunter for removing the painting, but the Capitol Police weren’t sure about proceeding. He said he’s asked for an apology. Kasper dismissed threats of theft charges as “grandstanding.”
Okay, so Hunter used the painting, calling it sensationalist, to pull the public and press away from the investigation into his campaign finances shenanigans.
The painting itself? Ever heard of the First Amendment, Mr. Hunter? Besides, depicting people as animals in art and literature goes way back, and all we have to cite is Orwell’s Animal House, where the pigs take over with their motto: “Some animals are more equal than others.”
maria e. Garcia says
Someone needs to work overtime to remove Hunter.
bob dorn says
Nailed it down with words, Frank.
The agony of Duncan Hunter’s fight for decency. How he must
have suffered each time he took that block-long walk, passing
the painting, grinding his teeth, tearing at his conscience for not
splashing it with fake gold flakes from Hobby Lobby, or turdlets
from his widdle wabbit.
This was a story of nearly Chargers proportions. Come to think
of it, why wasn’t he sponsoring legislation granting San Diego a
federal subsidy for a new stadium. It coulda been called Duncan’s
Just for the record his given name is Duncan Hunter Jr. His daddy, after retirement from congress for the same district, handed down the congressional seat to Jr. as if it where personal property. Hunter dropped Jr. to infuse effectively confusion with who’s who. I’ve heard it said that half of the constituents of his congressional district actually think there voting for his dad. Decency is not a family value for the Hunters as demonstrated in their politics and one more time by the heinous behavior of Duncan Hunter Jr. himself. This guy is the swamp.
Frank Gormlie says
Richard, thanks; can’t decide who is worse, the father or the son.
Janice Schattman says
Other Republican lawbreakers, sorry lawmakers, have already joined in. Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) called the press to cover them huffing into the Cannon Tunnell, indignantly removing the picture and dumping it contemptuously in Rep. Clay’s office [D-Mo]. How dare anyone complain of police brutality. We must defend the right of the police to get away with murder. Cut to the police union guys. Hunter’s motivation might be distraction in part but the idea is to rally police organizations behind them. http://www.rollcall.com/news/hoh/clay-puts-ferguson-police-tension-painting-back-up-in-capitol
These goons claim to represent individual liberty, more accurately took an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. But not freedom of speech. This is unadulterated government censorship. But they have successfully cast it as law & order versus black thugs. I have not seen a single white face standing with Rep. Clay. Why isn’t the local arts community up in arms about this?
This pissy little brat needs to be put over someone’s knee, taken to – hard – with a two-by-four, and then, as ignominiously as possible, kicked out of Congress. NEVER to be seen or heard from, ever again!
Philly Joe Swendoza says
Hunter’s district is a black hole in California’s Swiss cheese of blue Progressivism. The sucking sound of his politics is a genetic defect. His arrogance is astounding.