Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, Republican of California, plead guilty yesterday to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds for the benefit of himself and his family, according to a press release issued by the Department of Justice. Hunter’s wife, Margaret Hunter, who served as her husband’s campaign finance manager and was also named in the indictment, plead guilty earlier this year.
Hunter’s wide-spread and egregious misappropriations included $1,528.68 used to purchase games on Steam, as well as lavish family vacations, four-figure dinners with friends, and illicit trysts with as many as five mistresses — all despite the fact that the Hunter family was more than $60,000 in debt. In total, Hunter’s theft amounted to more than $150,000 in “illegally converted” funds between 2010 and 2016.
Hunter will be sentenced on March 17; he faces a maximum of five years in prison and $250,000 in fines, as does his wife, who will be sentenced in April. The congressman has, thus far, made no indication that he plans to resign his post as the U.S. Representative for California’s 50th Congressional District, though prosecutors expect him to tender his resignation prior to sentencing, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Some of you may remember Hunter as “the vaping congressman,” after he vaped on the floor of the House of Representatives to argue against a federal ban on vaping in airplanes. He’s also the guy that, once all this campaign finance misuse stuff started to pop off in 2016, blamed his own damn minor son for more than a thousand dollars worth of Steam purchases that had been charged to a campaign credit card.
Rep. Hunter would later throw his own damn wife under the bus as well, following her guilty plea earlier this year. “When I went away to Iraq in 2003, the first time, I gave her power of attorney,” Hunter told Fox News last August. “She handled my finances throughout my entire military career and that continued on when I got into Congress … She was also the campaign manager so whatever she did, that’ll be looked at too, I’m sure, but I didn’t do it.”
Fast-forward to yesterday’s plea, wherein Hunter explicitly cops to the conspiracy charge by saying that the “object of the conspiracy was for the Hunters to convert campaign funds for their own personal benefit and enjoyment, and for the personal benefit of others with whom they had personal relationships.” Despite this, Hunter simultaneously told media: “I failed to monitor and account for my campaign spending. I made mistakes, and that’s what today was all about.”
The U.S. attorneys attached to the case quickly highlighted Hunter’s statement as horseshit. “This was not an accounting mistake by his campaign. This was a deliberate, years-long violation of the law. Congressman Hunter used the power of his position to fund a lifestyle out of his reach,” said U.S. Attorney David Leshner.
“This is not a case about mismanagement, or sloppy accounting, or ‘mistakes,'” according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Allen. “Duncan Hunter intentionally took money that did not belong to him and used it for his own benefit.”
During the years-long investigation into his blatant thievery, Rep. Hunter steadfastly maintained his innocence, claiming that the investigation was a politically motivated witch hunt perpetrated by the Washington “deep state.” (If that sounds Familiar™, it may surprise you to learn that Hunter was the second congressman to officially endorse Donald Trump.) Hunter was reelected last year, after his indictment, which may give you some idea as to the GOP’s hold on California’s 50th district. His tenure in the House is largely defined by his unwavering support of military spending, as well as his transphobic and homophobic remarks about LGBT+ peoples serving in the military during the Obama administration’s efforts to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.