Report says Nunes used political donations to buy $15k Celtics tickets and lavish dinners

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Federal election filings show Valley Congressman Devin Nunes used funds from his Leadership Political Action Committee (PAC) to buy steak dinners, limo rides, and nearly $15,000 in Boston Celtics basketball tickets.

Campaign spending accounts are public records and have been lawfully disclosed, but they have become issues in Nunes's re-election campaign.

His opponent, Democrat Andrew Janz says the spending seems out of line.

"I think this is very shameful conduct we see Devin Nunes purchasing season tickets to the Celtics games, beachfront property, rentals, limousines, Vegas trips while the people back home are struggling to find jobs, and water, clean water. There are a whole host of issues that need to be focused on in the district, and he is doing all this other stuff."

The spending records published Thursday by the Campaign Legal Center and Issue One details the luxury spending.

Nunes' Leadership PAC spent nearly $15,000 on Boston Celtics Tickets, thousands on hotels in Las Vegas and Pismo Beach, more than $5,000 in Limousine rides, and tens of thousands at Washington D.C. restaurants in the past year.

Leadership PACs are separate pots of money from a campaign fund intended to help politicians strategically finance other candidates' campaigns. But in recent years, leadership PACs have increasingly been used to pay for lavish trips, meals and hotel stays.

Nunes supporter and local Republican activist Tal Cloud, who is the political director of the conservative Lincoln Club says the expenditures are simply the cost of political fundraising.

"It's very easy to look at this and say, 'Oh my gosh, he went to a basketball game. Oh my gosh, he is in these destinations.' But the reality is he is raising money to further his political career and thus the issues that affect the Valley, and I think that's positive. That is what you want your members of Congress doing."

But Fresno State Political Science Professor Thomas Holyoke says the spending appears questionable.

"It's money that was donated to his political campaign for the purpose of campaigning. It probably wasn't given to Devin Nunes to go buy tickets to the Boston Celtics," said Holyoke. "It is not illegal, but it should raise a whole bunch of eyebrows."

Nunes' Chief of Staff Anthony Ratekin issued a statement saying, "Rep. Nunes has broken no rules and properly reported all expenses for his fundraising events, much of whose income he gives to help elect other Republicans."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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