Duncan Hunter, the California congressman perhaps best known nationally for taking a super cool drag off of his nicotine vaporizer during a hearing, has attracted the attention of the Federal Election Commission for a super uncool reason: spending $1,302 in campaign funds on video games.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports Hunter listed the missing $1,302 as "personal expense — to be paid back" on his 2015 campaign expenditure report, with the total amount accruing over a two-month period from Oct. 13 to Dec. 16. The FEC has requested he explain why that "personal expense" went to video games.
It's not known which games might have been purchased using the funds, though all of the expenditures were made via the popular Steam platform (a kind of Netflix for games). A newly released AAA game from a major studio typically costs up to $59.99 on Steam, but the vast majority of titles run in the $10-25 range. Steam also runs cut-rate deals during the holiday season, meaning Hunter either purchased dozens of games — or isn't much of a bargain shopper.
Here's a GIF of Hunter vaping.
According to the Union-Tribune, Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper says the congressman's son used his campaign credit card to purchase a game and then incurred further unauthorized charges over the succeeding months.
Whether or not Hunter's son is just a convenient fall guy, the representative has previously defended video gamers in Congress, saying there is no valid scientific evidence linking violent games to mass shootings.
"The narrative that children and young adults today stare at television and computer screens, developing lethal skills through first-person gaming experiences, disingenuously portrays video games as having a corrosive influence," Hunter said in a 2013 statement. "The problem with this rationale is that it conveys an image that America's youth are incapable of discerning right from wrong, which simply is not true."
Hunter has not, as of yet, paid back the expenses because he is attempting to obtain a refund on the purchased games. He might have some trouble with that — though Steam offers a generous full refund policy, refunds only apply within two weeks of purchase and only on games that have been played for less than two hours.
Correction: April 6, 2016