Back in 2016, a sitting U.S. Congressman, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.), was accused of misusing campaign funds on a variety of inappropriate purchases. The FEC and federal regulators began an investigation after the story broke, with findings now having been revealed.
The Steam purchases themselves amounted to $1,302 on various games. Hunter’s campaign claimed that the Congressman’s teenage son was to blame. The filing for the PC game purchases was listed in tax and financial records as a “personal expense — to be paid back,” apparently along with many other purchases in filings. It was previously unknown just how widespread the scandal went until now. And it seems like it was very much intentional and reckless greed to blame.
His wife and campaign manager, Margaret Hunter, pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiring with her husband to misuse his campaign funds. It seems this plea had changed Mr. Hunter’s mind on trying to maintain his innocence against the charges. Up until recently, he described the allegations against him as a “witch hunt”. He even attempted to use the event to curry political favor among Republican voters by invoking the name of the president. “It’s obvious that the Department of Justice went after her to get to me for political reasons. … We are seeing this with President Trump; we are seeing this with my case,” Hunter said.
Since the overall allegations broke, more and more financial malfeasance has been revealed. In total more than $150,000 were ‘illegally converted’ from campaign funds into this same personal expense sinkhole. Everything was found to have been connected to the scandal. Even the Congressman’s wife was involved. The family was spending campaign contributions on everything from dog food and video games, to plane tickets for their family pet rabbits, Eggburt and Cadbury.
Tuesday’s news release from the U.S. Department of Justice adds some additional color to what the pair has now pleaded guilty to:
As detailed in the indictment, the Hunters stole money from the campaign for items as inconsequential as fast food, movie tickets and sneakers; as trivial as video games, Lego sets and Playdoh; as mundane as groceries, dog food, and utilities; and as self-indulgent as luxury hotels, overseas vacations and plane tickets for their family pet rabbits, Eggburt and Cadbury — all while their family was otherwise deeply in debt.
No sentencing has been handed out yet — the maximum penalty in this case is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine — but the guilty plea will certainly speed up that process. Hunter previously represented the 52nd CA district, which is now represented by Scott Peters (D). As of now he plans to step down from his current seat for the 50th CA district.
Hunter defeated Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) in the 2018 general election for the seat, and has represented the position since 2013. Polls prior to this news placed Ammar Campa-Najjar as a leader among voters in the district, with two GOP candidates, Carl DeMaio and Darrell Issa, trailing.