Lavish meals, pet airfare, Italy trip: Rep. Duncan Hunter and wife accused of misspending $250,000 in campaign funds

They dropped greater than $14,000 on an own family excursion in Italy. They racked up $3, three hundred at In-N-Out, Carl’s Jr, Taco Bell and other speedy-meals eating places. Over the years, prosecutors allege, Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, picked up Fandango film tickets, a $250 plane journey for the family rabbit, video games and vitamins from Costco — and as soon as, 30 tequila shots for a bachelor birthday celebration.
“Our deal with,” Hunter (R-Alpine) and his spouse informed their pals when they picked up the $1,164 tab at the Montage inn in Laguna Beach for foods and drinks.
A federal grand jury indicted the couple Tuesday, alleging they funded a lavish way of life of travel, first-class eating, items and different fees with the aid of illegally the usage of marketing campaign money, then filed false campaign finance reviews with the Federal Election Commission to cover it up.
Prosecutors stated the Hunters spent extra than $250,000 on private prices that they concealed as marketing campaign-related presents, donations and journey.
Family dental bills, the indictment alleges, were listed as a charitable contribution to “Smiles for Life.” Tickets for the own family to peer “Riverdance” on the San Diego Civic Theatre became “San Diego Civic Center for Republican Women Federated/Fundraising.” A golf trip was characterized as “a Christian issue” with a supporter. SeaWorld tickets well worth extra than $250 have been referred to as an “instructional excursion.”
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For all of the spending, the government said the couple was without a doubt broke. After his election to Congress in 2008, Duncan and his spouse overdrew their financial institution account extra than 1, a hundred times, racking up more than $37,000 in overdraft fees, the indictment said.
The couple is accused of treating the marketing campaign coffers “as if they have been personal financial institution accounts,” U.S. Atty. Adam Braverman stated in an assertion. “Elected representatives have to jealously defend the general public’s accept as true with, now not abuse their positions for private gain.”
During the term the indictment covers — 2009 to 2016 — Hunter changed into reelected 4 instances, while his spouse, Margaret, dealt with his marketing campaign finance reviews and become paid as his campaign supervisor.
His marketing campaign known as the indictment politically stimulated and connected to his guide for President Trump. It said in a statement that the federal legal professionals involved within the indictment attended a “Hillary Clinton for President” fundraiser on Aug. 27, 2015, and have to have recused themselves from the case.
The campaign stated Hunter has no plans to drop out of his reelection race. But House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Tuesday that Hunter — chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee — may be eliminated from his committee assignments until the case is resolved.
Gregory Vega, Hunter’s lawyer, said an indictment simplest 3 months before the election and nearly  years since the research began “reflects a lack of impartiality and looks to be an attempt to derail Congressman Hunter’s reelection.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune and the FEC identified a number of the questionable spending greater than two years in the past, triggering a federal research by way of the Justice Department.
Defending himself towards the research has largely drained Hunter’s campaign conflict chest. He and his wife offered the family domestic and moved in with his parents. The five-time period congressman holds a seat his father, Rep. Duncan Hunter Sr., as soon as held for decades.Image result for Lavish meals, pet airfare, Italy trip: Rep. Duncan Hunter and wife accused of misspending $250,000 in campaign funds
It becomes greater than $1, three hundred in online game purchases that first drew the newspaper’s attention. At the time, Hunter blamed his son for those purchases, announcing he had used the incorrect credit score card to enroll in a routine buy.
But the 47-page indictment info years of unchecked spending and deception, beginning in 2009, while Duncan Hunter requested marketing campaign credit score cards for himself and his spouse. At the time, his campaign treasurer warned him: The cards could be used most effectively for campaign-associated fees.
On Jan. 25, 2010, consistent with the indictment, the congressman spent more than $1,000 in marketing campaign funds on a 3-night time skiing ride with a pal. That identical day, his own family financial institution account had a negative balance and incurred six separate expenses for the insufficient budget. He had approximately $35 in his private account.
Later in 2010, the treasurer pressed Hunter approximately a $160 spherical of golf and beer at Riverwalk Golf Club with a chum, asking if the expenditure became marketing campaign related.
“Yessir. All exact,” he responded.
Soon after, his wife spent $seven-hundred on a dozen tickets for “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” falsely labeling the fee as “vacation gift certificate,” prosecutors said. They spent $2,000 to send a family member to a Pittsburgh Steelers game for a party.
When the treasurer wondered him again, Hunter asked if he becomes “looking to create some type of paper path” on the congressman, in line with the indictment.
The spending allegedly persisted for years. The Hunters took circle of relatives holidays to Boise, Idaho, and Washington, D.C. Margaret Hunter booked flights for her sister and  different own family members to wait for a funeral in Tucson in 2012, saying the rate became for a flight to Baltimore for a “wintry weather assembly” at a Republican collecting, files stated.
“We really want to up the 1k each day limit to 4 or 5,” Margaret Hunter told the treasurer in February 2015, regarding the marketing campaign card. The following month, Duncan Hunter told his wife he turned into planning to shop for his “Hawaii shorts” but had run out of money. She advised him to shop for the shorts from a pro golf save. That manner, they may describe the purchase as “a few [golf] balls for the wounded warriors,” the indictment alleges.
During the family experience to Italy in 2015, Hunter attempted to installation a day tour of a U.S. Naval facility there to justify the use of campaign finances, consistent with the indictment. Navy officials stated they might offer an excursion most effective on a certain day.