‘I Did Make Mistakes’: Rep. Duncan Hunter, an Early Trump Supporter, Will Plead Guilty to Campaign Finance Violations

 In GDI, Defense, Sea
  • Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of San Diego, California, one of President Donald Trump’s ear­li­est back­ers in his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, will plead guilty to at least one count of mis­us­ing cam­paign funds.
  • After the Federal Election Commission launched an inves­ti­ga­tion in 2016, Hunter was indict­ed two years lat­er on accu­sa­tions of mis­us­ing $250,000 in cam­paign funds for per­son­al expens­es — such as gro­ceries, video games, expen­sive meals, and vis­its to their fam­i­ly den­tist.
  • “I think it’s impor­tant not to have a pub­lic tri­al for three rea­sons. And those three rea­sons are my kids,” Hunter said. “I think it’d be real­ly tough for them. It’s hard enough being the kids of a pub­lic fig­ure. I think it’s time for them to live life out­side the spot­light.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s home­page for more sto­ries.

Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of San Diego, California, one of President Donald Trump’s ear­li­est back­ers in his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, will plead guilty to at least one count of mis­us­ing cam­paign funds.

After the Federal Election Commission launched an inves­ti­ga­tion in 2016, Hunter was indict­ed two years lat­er on accu­sa­tions of mis­us­ing $250,000 in cam­paign funds for per­son­al expens­es — such as gro­ceries, video games, expen­sive meals, and vis­its to their fam­i­ly den­tist. His tri­al was sched­uled for January 22, 2020.

“That’s not going to hap­pen now,” Hunter said in an inter­view with KUSI on Tuesday.

Hunter said he was plead­ing guilty to pre­vent the tri­al from going pub­lic due to fam­i­ly rea­sons.

“I think it’s impor­tant not to have a pub­lic tri­al for three rea­sons. And those three rea­sons are my kids,” Hunter said. “I think it’d be real­ly tough for them. It’s hard enough being the kids of a pub­lic fig­ure. I think it’s time for them to live life out­side the spot­light.”

According to the indict­ment, the alle­ga­tions claim that he and his wife, Margaret, “know­ing­ly con­spired with each oth­er” to con­vert cam­paign funds “for their own per­son­al ben­e­fit and enjoy­ment.”

Margaret, who was the cam­paign chair­woman, already plead­ed guilty and con­sent­ed to tes­ti­fy­ing against Hunter.

Prosecutors also alleged the two den­i­grat­ed the mil­i­tary and masked their per­son­al spend­ing under the guise of gifts for wound­ed vet­er­ans. During a trip to Hawaii in 2015, Hunter, a for­mer US Marine offi­cer, alleged­ly told Margaret he planned “to buy my Hawaii shorts” but had run out of mon­ey. Margaret advised him to buy the shorts at a golf­ing gear shop so they could lat­er describe the sale as “some [golf] balls for the wound­ed war­riors,” the indict­ment said.

Hunter alleged­ly attempt­ed to jus­ti­fy using cam­paign mon­ey to fund a fam­i­ly trip to Italy in 2015, by set­ting up a tour of a US Navy facil­i­ty in the coun­try. Navy offi­cials said they could not accom­mo­date a tour on his date, to which he respond­ed by telling his chief of staff, “tell the navy to go f— them­selves,” the indict­ment said.

Margaret alleged­ly tried to dis­guise the trip to Italy by claim­ing it was “most­ly military/defense meet relat­ed,” despite hav­ing emailed a friend that the trip was “our best fam­i­ly trip so far.”

“Throughout the rel­e­vant peri­od, the Hunters spent sub­stan­tial­ly more than they earned,” the indict­ment said. “By virtue of these delin­quen­cies as well as noti­fi­ca­tions of out­stand­ing debts … the Hunters knew that many of their desired pur­chas­es could only be made using cam­paign funds.”

Hunter has since reim­bursed his cam­paign around $65,000 since the FEC’s inves­ti­ga­tion.

“I think it’s impor­tant that peo­ple know that I did make mis­takes,” Hunter said to KUSI. “I did not prop­er­ly mon­i­tor, or account for, my cam­paign mon­ey.”

“Whatever my time in cus­tody is, I will take that hit,” Hunter added. “My only hope is that the judge does not sen­tence my wife to jail. I think my kids need a mom in the home.”

Following his indict­ment, the local Republican Party’s chap­ter cut ties and declined to endorse him. In October, Hunter said he “got this seat” and was “still fight­ing from this seat.”

Source: Business Insider (Military & Defense)

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