Rep. Duncan Hunter Indicted for Misusing Campaign Funds

Rep. Duncan Hunter chairing a meeting of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, July 2016 (file)

By The Maritime Executive 08-21-2018 08:36:17

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Ca), chairman of the House subcommittee overseeing the Coast Guard and the maritime industry, has been indicted on charges of misappropriating $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses. The charges include wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations and conspiracy. 

An indictment released Tuesday accuses Rep. Hunter and his wife Margaret of using campaign donations to pay for travel, theater tickets, school tuition for their children, groceries and other goods and services, then fabricating campaign expenses to account for the money. In FEC filings for the campaign, the Hunters allegedly described the personal expenditures as “campaign travel,” “dinner with volunteers/contributors,” “toy drives,” “teacher/parent and supporter events,” “gift cards” for charitable donations, and “gift basket items."

According to prosecutors, Rep. Hunter facilitated his wife's participation in the alleged theft by appointing her his campaign manager, then ignoring his staff's warnings about her improper use of funds. Last year, Rep. Hunter acknowledged "wrong campaign spending," but said "it was not done by me." 

The indictment suggests that the Hunters needed the extra money in order to stave off financial problems, including 1,100 instances of bank overdrafts and $38,000 in overdraft fees. 

“Elected representatives should jealously guard the public’s trust, not abuse their positions for personal gain," said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman in a statement. "Today’s indictment is a reminder that no one is above the law.”

Rep. Hunter's attorney, Gregory A. Vega, has accused prosecutors for politically motivated timing for the indictment. In a letter to the Justice Department earlier this month, Vega accused the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California of making a "rush to indict" before the midterm elections.