‘It was a nightmare’: Rep. John Huppenthal is on a mission to save his Republican colleagues
The House Ethics Committee on Thursday unanimously approved a $1.5 million settlement with a Tennessee rancher over allegations that he forced his cattle into a tractor-trailer that crashed into the side of a pickup truck and killed two people.
Huppenthal, R-Tenn., has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of assault and a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief stemming from the incident in February.
He was not immediately available for comment.
Hupphorn, who has a lengthy history of being accused of sexual misconduct, denied the allegations and filed a complaint with the Justice Department, saying he was unfairly singled out.
The Justice Department’s civil rights division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating.
Hugh Forrest, who owns the ranch, said in a statement that he is deeply saddened and heartbroken by this tragic event, which took place in the middle of the summer months.
“Our hearts are with the families and loved ones of the victims and their families.
The investigation is ongoing and I would like to express my heartfelt sympathies to the victims’ families and friends,” he said.
Rep. Joe Barton, R–Texas, said he is looking forward to returning to work.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R.-Calif., has said he intends to vote against Hupphorn’s re-election bid, but he did not comment on the allegations made against him.
“It’s sad to say that I was at the scene of the accident and was not aware of it.
I am extremely troubled by the allegations,” McCarthy said in an interview with the Houston Chronicle.
“I do not believe any of these claims are true.
I do not have any knowledge of this at this time.”
Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R, Tenn., said Huppens actions are “unacceptable.”
“There’s no doubt about it.
The behavior of a legislator who has never been in the public eye should never have happened,” DesJarlas said in his statement.
“He needs to step aside and allow the House Ethics Board to handle its business.”
The House Ethics committee also approved a settlement with an Iowa rancher who was accused of driving his cattle onto a tractor trailer and killing two people in a pickup.
The driver, Michael Schreiber, pleaded not-guilty and has agreed to forfeit $5.6 million.
He also agreed to pay $2.25 million in civil damages to the families of the two victims.
Rep. Kevin Brady, R –Texas, called the settlement “disappointing.”
“I think it’s a sad day when you’re supposed to be protecting the taxpayer and not allowing yourself to be a victim of the kind of abuse that we see here,” he told The Associated Press.
“This is something that we have to come to terms with.”
Jason Chaffetz, R -Utah, and Adam Kinzinger, R —Illinois —both spoke about Huppons conduct on the House floor.
Chaffetz said he was “disgusted” by the incident.
Kinzinger said he would resign from the House if the investigation is not complete.
“I am disgusted that my constituents are still in pain, and I hope that we find the truth about this,” he tweeted.
Republican leaders on the committee, however, did not take a position on whether they would vote to support Huppes re-elect bid.
A spokesman for Rep. Justin Amash, R. Mich., a vocal critic of Hupphoff, did say that the allegations are “disturbing” and “not surprising.”
“The House of Representatives is a place of public service, and we will be transparent with all Members,” said Adam Smith, spokesman for Amash.
“In light of these allegations, the Committee is reviewing the matter and will make its final determination in the coming weeks.”
The investigation is continuing.