Local Congressman Indicted for Misappropriation of Funds
By Alexandra Mendoza
Republican Representative Duncan Hunter, Jr. and his wife, Margaret, were indicted by a grand jury for purportedly converting more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for personal expenses, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.
The indictment accuses the couple of using campaign funds from 2009 to 2016 to cover a plethora of personal expenses, from family vacations to Italy, Hawaii, and other places, to private school tuition, dental work, and tickets to the theater.
To conceal these illegal charges, the Hunters filed the expenditures before the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as “campaign trips”, “meals with volunteers and supporters”, “support events with teachers and parents”, “gift cards”, and “gift baskets,” among other things.
Similarly, the dental work paid with campaign funds was declared as charitable contributions to “Smiles for Life”, while the theater tickets were justified as “Christmas Gift Certificates”, states the indictment.
Hunter came under scrutiny by the FEC in April 2016, after they detected “questionable expenses” of campaign funds, as later reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The Hunters would have a hard time justifying paying their children’s private tuition to Christian Unified School in el Cajon, which according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, they filed as “charitable contributions.”
Both Hunter and his wife also spent “tens of thousands of dollars” in other low-profile purchases, such as fast food, movie tickets, golf outings, video games, coffee, household items, and expensive meals.
“The indictment alleges that Congressman Hunter and his wife repeatedly dipped into campaign coffers as if they were personal bank accounts, and falsified FEC campaign finance reports to cover their tracks,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “Elected representatives should jealously guard the public’s trust, not abuse their positions for personal gain. Today’s indictment is a reminder that no one is above the law.”
The 60-count indictment accuses the couple of conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, wire fraud, falsification of records, and prohibited use of campaign contributions.
Hunter, 41, who was preceded in Office by his father of the same name, currently represents California’s 50th Congressional District and is running for reelection to the office he has held for nearly a decade after winning the June Primaries. He is being challenged by Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar.
The division, chaos and corruption in Washington has gone too far, said Campa-Najjar in a statement. “Today’s indictment confirms just how deep this corruption can reach when someone like Duncan Hunter Jr. is in it for himself instead of representing the people.”