Congressman Used Campaign Funds to Pay Pet in Cabin Fees for His Rabbit

Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) improperly billed his campaign fund for $600 pet in cabin fees for his family’s rabbit according to a report by the Office of Congressional Ethics (which will live to see another day).

Hunter, though, was doing it wrong. Had he simply claimed to be transporting an emotional support rabbit he wouldn’t have had to pay any fees at all and wouldn’t have gotten into this ethics mess.

The Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 prohibits airlines from discriminating against passengers with disabilities, and thus they must make reasonable accommodations for them which allow them to fly — like having access to their emotional support animals.

Of course his emotional issues could become an issue in an upcoming campaign. But if his constituents re-elect him after he had to reimburse the campaign $49,000 last year for “groceries, fast food and items in connection with a trip to Italy Hunter took with his wife” then they will probably be accepting of his emotional need to travel with a rabbit.

Apparently the rabbit’s fees charged to his campaign was all a giant misunderstanding.

“(The office) has in their report $600 in campaign expenditures for in cabin rabbit transport fees,” Kasper said. “Since travel is often done on (airline) miles – which is entirely permissible – the credit card connected to the account was charged several times even when his children were flying.”

  • His credit card was in his airline account because frequent flyer miles
  • His children were flying and the airline just billed that card
  • Or something

      Copyright: tan4ikk / 123RF Stock Photo

Even though of course pet in cabin fees are generally due at the airport, with a card swipe taken at that time.

Congressman Hunter’s office uses the rabbit incident, bizarrely, as justification for placing new restrictions on the Office of Congressional Ethics.

“This was nothing more than an oversight. In fact, it’s such an obvious example of a mistake being made but (the office) wants to view it through a lens of possible intent. The same goes for many other expenditures.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “More From View from the Wing” shows a second article with that same turkey pic, and two articles with your sweet little terrier.

    I think it’s time to get some new stock photos. 🙂

  2. Duncan Hunter is always screaming about government waste. He’s just a crooked congressman who rails against government spending and then charges the tax payers for transporting his pet rabbit. These people need to be removed from office. Why didn’t you post a picture of the pet rabbit for us to see since we paid $600 for it’s transport in the cabin? He probably used his government credit card to buy it food onboard.

  3. After the fallout from this story going public, I think he will need 2 rabbits to cope going forward.

  4. this is why these guys should get 0% reimbursement for family travel! Taking your rabbit is not business related. Taking your wife is NEVER business related! $42K to go to Italy. Where did he stay trump Hotels? We got ripped off by this guy and need him to pay the US TREASURY BACK

  5. “Had he simply claimed to be transporting an emotional support rabbit he wouldn’t have had to pay any fees at all and wouldn’t have gotten into this ethics mess.”
    Right? Claiming just any pet as needed for “emotional support” is totally ethical. Must be why so many are doing it.

  6. Somehow it seems MORE honorable that he did NOT fake claim it as an emotional support animal and paid the fee.

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