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Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife allegedly play the military card to score freebies using campaign funds

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duncan d hunter
Rep.
Duncan Hunter of California.

Getty
Images


  • Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, a Republican lawmaker
    who was one of President Donald Trump’s earliest backers, was
    indicted on accusations of misusing $250,000 in campaign funds
    for personal expenses.
  • In the indictment, Hunter and his wife appeared to
    denigrate the military and masked their spending under the
    guise of gifts for wounded veterans.
  • During a trip to Hawaii in 2015, Hunter allegedly told
    his wife he planned “to buy … Hawaii shorts” but had run out
    of money — his wife advised him to buy the shorts at a golf pro
    shop so they could later describe the sale as “some [golf]
    balls for the wounded warriors.”
  • Hunter also attempted to justify a family trip to Italy
    by setting up a tour of a US Navy facility in the
    country.

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, a Republican lawmaker who was
one of President Donald Trump’s earliest backers, has deep roots
in the military.

Hunter, who sits on two subcommittees on the House Armed Services
Committee, served in the US Marine Corps as a field artillery
officer. He eventually became the first Marine to
have served in combat operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan to
become elected into Congress.

But in a federal indictment on Tuesday, he and his wife faced
allegations that they misused $250,000 in campaign funds for
personal expenses and filed misleading campaign finance records.
The allegations also include denigrating the military and masking
their personal spending under the guise of gifts for wounded
veterans.

Justice Department prosecutors alleged Hunter and his wife,
Margaret, “knowingly conspired with each other” to convert
campaign funds “for their own personal benefit and enjoyment.”

During a trip to Hawaii in 2015, Hunter allegedly told Margaret
he planned “to buy my Hawaii shorts” but had run out of money.
Margaret then advised him to buy the shorts at a golf pro shop so
they could later describe the sale as “some [golf] balls for the
wounded warriors,” the indictment said.


duncan hunter Chris Collins
President
Donald Trump with Rep. Chris Collins of New York, and Rep. Duncan
Hunter of California in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in
Washington, February 16, 2017.

Evan
Vucci/AP


That same year, Hunter attempted to justify using campaign money
to fund a family trip to Italy 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 amazing.”

“Truly our best family trip so far,” Margaret wrote in an email.
“Like that saying ‘if traveling was free you’d never see me
again’!”

According to prosecutors, campaign funds were also used to pay
for groceries, video games, expensive meals, and their family
dentist. He has since reimbursed his campaign around $65,000
since the Federal Election Commission looked into his spending in
2016.

“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.”


paul ryan
House Speaker Paul Ryan of
Wisconsin.

Win McNamee/Getty
Images


House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement that the charges
against Hunter were “deeply serious” and that he’d be removed
from his assignments on the Armed Services Committee.

Hunter has been an outspoken critic on many military-related
issues and has found himself butting heads with military leaders throughout his tenure in
Congress.

In 2016, he raised eyebrows by claiming
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ support to allow women in the Marines
to serve in combat roles was “a greater threat to the Marine
Corps than ISIS.”

“The military is there to execute American policy overseas,
protect our allies and kill our enemies,” Hunter wrote in an
op-ed. “It’s not a corporation. We’re not all treated equal.”

Hunter is running for reelection against Democrat Ammar
Campa-Najjar in November.

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