Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., is under investigation by the Justice Department.
The House Ethics Committee released a statement Thursday saying it was deferring consideration of a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics detailing possible campaign finance improprities because the Justice Department, in a move that signals that department is probing the matter itself, asked it to.
The committee first received the referral on Hunter from the Office of Congressional Ethics last August. The committee voted unanimously on Wednesday to comply with the Justice Department's request.
In accordance with committee rules, the panel is also withholding the bulk of the OCE's report detailing the alleged violations.
The portion of the OCE report that was released states that Hunter's campaign "reported expenditures that may not be legitimate and verifiable campaign expenditures attributable to bona fide campaign or political purposes.
"Rep. Hunter may have converted tens of thousands of dollars of campaign funds from his congressional campaign committee to personal use to pay for family travel, flights, utilities, health care, school uniforms and tuition, jewelry, groceries, and other goods, services, and expenses," which is a violation of House rules and federal campaign laws, the report states.
Hunter's local paper, the San Diego Union Tribune, previously reported that the former Marine may have violated House rules when he secured a loan to repay his campaign almost $50,000 for personal expenses that he billed in possible violation of campaign finance laws.
On Dec. 15, the bipartisan Ethics Committee acknowledged receiving the OCE report but delayed announcing "its course of action" until the new Congress.
After several delays, the Ethics Committee met for the first time on Wednesday to adopt the rules that will govern the 10-member panel for the 115th Congress and decide what to do about the OCE referral.