Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., participates in a news conference.
Bill Clark/Getty

From the GOP’s ‘convict caucus’ to the GOP’s ‘indictment caucus’

Over the summer, voters were introduced to the “convict caucus”: three Republican ex-cons, two of whom recently served time behind bars, who launched high-profile congressional campaigns, confident that voters would look past their criminal convictions.

As regular readers may recall, they didn’t do especially well. Former Rep. Michael Grimm lost in a New York congressional primary, while West Virginia’s Don Blankenship and Arizona’s Joe Arpaio lost in Senate primaries in their respective states.

But while the “convict caucus” struggled, members of the “indictment caucus” had far less trouble.

In August, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) was arrested for alleged insider trading. Soon after, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) was accused by federal prosecutors of having stolen more than a quarter million dollars from his campaign coffers. Both ran for re-election anyway, even while under criminal indictmetns, and as Roll Call  noted, both prevailed.

Two House Republicans under federal indictments are heading back to Congress. Voters in California and New York are sending Reps. Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins back to Capitol Hill even as they face federal charges. […]

The House Ethics Committee voted in September to impanel investigative subcommittees to examine Hunter and Collins. But neither panel plans to conduct work on the investigation at this time, deferring to the Justice Department for now. The DOJ, which brought forth the charges and is leading prosecution efforts against both lawmakers, has asked the Ethics Committee to defer action on both matters, and it has agreed.

There’s still some question as to whether Collins won, but as things stand, he appears to be ahead by one percentage point, while Hunter, who ran a deeply ugly campaign, won fairly easily in his district near San Diego.

As Rachel joked on the show last night, Collins and Hunter will soon presumably be able to simultaneously solicit new campaign contributions from their constituents “along with requests for additional donations to go into the commissary accounts they’ll have in federal prison.”

California and New York

From the GOP's 'convict caucus' to the GOP's 'indictment caucus'