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Law & the Courts

Rep. Duncan Hunter Pleads Not Guilty to Misusing $250k in Campaign Funds

Congressman Duncan Hunter (R, Calif.) leaves court following his arraignment at federal in San Diego, Calif., August 23, 2018. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Update 4:50pm: Hunter informed Paul Ryan on Thursday that he is stepping down from his committee assignments.

Representative Duncan Hunter has pled not guilty to charges that he misused more than $250,000 in campaign funds.

In an interview with ABC10 Wednesday, the California Republican accused the Justice Department, “the Democrats’ arm of law enforcement,” of targeting him and his wife Margaret Hunter for political purposes.

“It’s happening with Trump and it’s happening with me and we’re going to fight through it and win and the people get to vote in November,” Hunter said. “I’m not worried, I’m looking forward to it. They can try to have a political agenda . . . let’s let them expose themselves for what they are, and that’s a politically motivated group of folks.”

Hunter and his wife were indicted Tuesday and arraigned Thursday in San Diego on 60 counts.

They pled not guilty to using over a quarter of a million dollars in campaign money on their own and their relatives’ personal expenses, including vacations to Las Vegas, Hawaii, London, and Italy, golf outings, expensive dinners, a flight for a family pet, tequila shots, household decorations, their children’s tuition, dental work, and other personal items.

The couple is also accused of falsifying campaign-finance reports and lying to the treasurer. In one case, prosecutors allege that Mrs. Hunter, who was also her husband’s campaign manager, advised him to buy his “Hawaii shorts” from a golf-pro shop so he could list the purchase as “some [golf] balls for the wounded warriors.”

“For over two years, I have made myself available to cooperate with this investigation in any manner. To date, I have not been asked one time to answer any questions or address any issue. I have not had one opportunity to present my side of anything in this investigation or to counter any allegations against me,” Hunter said Wednesday. “All the while, there has been a constant barrage of misinformation and salacious headlines in our media regarding this matter. I purposely choose to remain silent, not to feed into this witch-hunt and trust the process.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that Hunter would leave his positions on the Armed Services, Education and Workforce, and Transportation and Infrastructure Committees. But as of Thursday, Hunter apparently remains on the committees.

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