GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter of California and his wife are facing a slew of federal charges in connection with a multi-year scheme to use campaign funds for personal expenses and report them as official expenditures.
Between 2009 and 2016, the pair allegedly stole over $250,000 from Hunter’s campaign coffers and used the money to cover personal expenses ranging from running shoes to international vacations. (RELATED: Rep. Duncan Hunter Indicted For Allegedly Misusing $250K In Campaign Funds)
One of the Hunters’ preferred ways of masking the misuse of campaign funds was to claim the purchases were for charitable organizations, according to a federal grand jury indictment. In at least two instances, Hunter and his wife Margaret sought to pass off the purchase of personal items as donations to “wounded warriors” groups.
“On or about March 20, 2015, when Duncan Hunter told Margaret Hunter that he was planning ‘to buy my Hawaii shorts’ but had run out of money, she counseled him to buy the shorts at a golf pro shop so that they could falsely describe the purchase later as some [golf] balls for the wounded warriors,” the indictment states.
The Hunters allegedly employed the same misdirection later that year, spending campaign funds at a sporting goods store and later telling the campaign treasurer the items were for an event for wounded veterans.
“On or about August 16, 2015, in El Cajon, California, Margaret Hunter spent $216.50 in campaign funds at Dick’s Sporting Goods to purchase a pair of running shoes and other items,” the indictment states. “To conceal and disguise this illegal charge, Margaret Hunter falsely informed the treasurer that the items were for an annual dove hunting event involving wounded warriors and were, therefore equipment-related [event supplies].”
Hunter, 41, is a Marine Corps veteran who served as an artillery officer in Iraq and Afghanistan. A key member of the House Armed Services Committee, he has often alluded to his military service during debates over national security policy.
The FBI began investigating Hunter in June 2016 after the Federal Election Commission and the San Diego Union-Tribune began looking into some of his questionable campaign expenditures. Hunter previously acknowledged discrepancies in the accounting of his campaign funds, but has said the errors do not rise to the level of criminal activity.
The Hunters will be arraigned in federal court in San Diego on Thursday. They face charges of conspiracy against the United States, wire fraud, falsification of records and prohibited use of campaign contributions.
Hunter will be stripped of his committee assignments until the conclusion of his criminal case, according to House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“The charges against Rep. Hunter are deeply serious. The Ethics Committee deferred its investigation at the request of the Justice Department,” Ryan said in a statement Tuesday. “Now that he has been indicted, Rep. Hunter will be removed from his committee assignments pending the resolution of this matter.”
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