Devin Nunes, the U.S. Representative for California’s 22nd district, roughly three hours outside Los Angeles, used re-election campaign donations to pay for nearly $15,000 worth of Boston Celtics tickets in 2017, according to a McClatchy analysis of Federal Election Commission filings and a report issued Thursday by nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog groups Issue One and Campaign Legal Center.
During Boston’s run to the 2017 Eastern Conference finals, Nunes used money from his political action committee, New PAC, to purchase Celtics tickets for $7,300 on Feb. 9, $5,700 on April 11 and $1,588 on May 8, when he also spent $3,594 on his stay at Boston’s Omni Parker House, according to the report. The latter two purchases were made in advance of playoff games against Chicago and Washington.
All three purchases were listed as fundraising expenses. New PAC has received a single $5,000 donation from Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance PAC during the 2018 election cycle, per McClatchy. Nunes was the lone congressman to purchase NBA tickets with campaign finances, the report said. Former Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota spent $3,615 on tickets to “an event” at TD Garden in November 2017, when Boston hosted Grateful Dead and Jay-Z concerts in addition to Celtics and Bruins games.
Despite growing up in Tulare, Calif., a city located in Lakers country, Nunes spent his teens “adoring Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics,” according to an April 2017 profile of the 44-year-old Republican. In July 2008, he co-sponsored a congressional resolution congratulating the Celtics on their NBA title.
Nunes is the U.S. House intelligence committee chairman whose February memo preceded the committee’s investigation into an alleged conspiracy by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice to derail Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He recently welcomed LeBron James to the Lakers by warning him to “prepare to pay the highest taxes you ever have.”
In addition to the $14,638 he spent on Celtics tickets in 2017, Nunes was the most lavish campaign finance spender in Las Vegas, paying $42,741 for “catering, site rentals, hotels, and meals” since 2013, the report said. His PAC also spent almost $15,000 on California winery tours. These too were listed as campaign fundraising efforts. The House Ethics Committee outlaws the personal use of PAC finances.
Confronted by McClatchy about his PAC’s spending habits, Nunes said, “I wish I could help you.”
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