Legislator uses campaign money for machine gun ammo

State Rep. Judd Matheny, currently running for the Republican nomination to the 6th Congressional District seat, used $1,600 from his legislative campaign funds to pay for ammunition fired during target shooting for lawmakers with machine guns in April, reports The Tennessean.

“The ammunition was belted 30-06 ammunition from my personal collection I have acquired over the years. Two of our large tripod weapons need that stuff and it is mostly unobtainable already linked in belts that we could afford,” Matheny (R-Tullahoma) said in an emailed statement.

“I have many thousands of rounds I have stockpiled and I diverted 2,000 rounds to the shoot. We spent roughly another $12,000 in ammo (that) was donated by various groups (or the money was) to purchase it. I just augmented with some from my collection.”

Matheny defended the use of campaign funds for bullets and paying himself with those donor dollars, saying the event also teaches gun safety and “is a high value incident for my constituents.”

…The shoot, attended by U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-South Pittsburg, and other Tennessee lawmakers while committee hearings proceeded at the Nashville statehouse, is the latest instance of lawmakers using their donations on a wide array of purchases.

Note: The article lists some other legislator purchases with campaign funds disclosed in reports covering the first six months of 2017. The biggest: $3,000 spent by Rep. Gerald McCormick on “office furnishings from a famous Maryland sculptor;” the smallest, $205 spent on “entertainment” at Skulls Rainbow Room, a Nashville bar that offers burlesque and craft cocktails.

The legislative machine gun event has been held for several years at Arnold Engineering Development Center near Tullahoma with Matheny serving as chief organizer. His disclosure shows that, besides the $1,640 he paid himself for ammo provided to the event, Matheny also used another $310.77 for a separate purchase of cartridges from an Ohio firm, $425 for a tent set up at the event; $90 for a “caution tape,” $124 for “hearing protection/safety glasses,” $376 on “food for workers,” and $317 for “snack and drinks.”

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