On Tuesday night, Republican California Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. was indicted on a series of counts ranging from conspiracy to campaign finance laws, all stemming from the congressman’s alleged widespread misuse of campaign cash to pay for his personal life.
The 47-page charging document – which lays out the allegations against Hunter and his wife – is absolute fire, portraying a totally out-of-control member of Congress operating in an ethics-free zone. I went through the indictment and plucked out the most amazing moments. They’re below.
1. “Throughout the relevant period, the Hunters spent substantially more than they earned. They overdrew their bank account more than 1,100 times in a seven-year period resulting in approximately $37,761 in ‘overdraft’ and ‘insufficient funds bank’ fees.”
Holy crap! In a seven-year period, the Hunters allegedly overdrew their bank account more than 1,000 times! Also, according to the indictment, Hunter had less than $1,000 in reportable assets listed on his personal financial disclosure forms for each year between 2009 and 2016. Talk about living beyond your means!
2. “The Hunters illegally converted and stole more than $250,000 in campaign funds to purchase goods and services for their personal use and enjoyment.”
I never understand this. If you want to use $250 from your campaign to buy a few personal items, I get how you can reasonably think you won’t get caught. But do you think no one will ever ask questions about $250,000?!?!
3. “Duncan Hunter facilitated the theft of campaign funds by ignoring his campaign staff’s multiple warnings about Margaret’s improper use of campaign funds, accusing campaign staff of disloyalty by ‘trying to create some kind of paper trail on me’ when they raised concerns about improper spending, and continually refusing to remove her access to campaign funds.”
Ah, the old I’m-not-doing-something-wrong-you’re-doing-something-wrong approach! Also, reminder: These people Hunter accused of “trying to create some kind of paper trail” worked for him at the time.
4. “The Hunters concealed and disguised the personal nature of many of their campaign expenditures by either falsely stating the expenses were ‘campaign related’ or by falsely reporting the item or service purchased when providing information to the Treasurer (by, for example, buying personal clothing items at a golf course so that the purchase could be falsely reported to the Treasurer as ‘balls for the wounded warriors’).”
Buying golf clothes for yourself and reporting it as buying golf balls for wounder warriors? Oooomph.
5. “The Hunters concealed and disguised the personal nature of their family’s purchases of video games using Campaign funds by falsely claiming to a financial institution that the payments were fraudulent charges and then reporting the purchases to the FEC and the public as fraudulent charges.”
Video games! And then tell your staff and the public you were hacked! Paging Anthony Weiner….
6. “The Hunters illegally used Campaign funds, among other things, to purchase the following: Hotel rooms, airline tickets and upgrades, meals and food, and entertainment expenses for vacations for themselves and their friends and family, including more than $14,000 for a family Thanksgiving vacation in Italy in November 2015; more than $6,500 for a family vacation to Hawaii in April 2015; more than $3,700 for a family vacation to Las Vegas and Boise in July 2015; more than $2,400 for a Las Vegas couples vacation in August 2011; and more vacations to destinations such as Lake Tahoe, Pittsburgh, London, and Washington.”
See point No. 1. These are people living way, way beyond their means. Hawaii in April, Vegas in July and Italy in November? Pretty nice year.
7. “Household and other personal items for their family from a wide variety of stores, such as Costco (where they spent more than $11,300 in Campaign funds), Walmart (where they spent more than $5,700), Barnes Noble (where they spent more than $2,500), Target (where they spent more than $2,300), Michaels craft store (where they spent more than $2,200), and other retailers such as Aaron Brothers, Party City, World Market, Crate & Barrel, Pier 1, Penny, Sears, and Rite Aid.”
Look, I get it. Costco is awesome. And those damn massive jars of mustard cost more than you think. But who the hell spends $2,200 at Michaels? Seriously that sounds like a nightmare I had recently.
8. “On or about January 25, 2010, in Incline Village, Nevada, Duncan Hunter spent $1,008.72 in campaign funds at the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino for food, drinks, and three nights lodging during a personal ski trip with Individual 14. On this day, the Hunter family bank account had a negative balance and incurred six separate insufficient funds fees (totaling $198). Also on this same day, Duncan Hunter withdrew $20 from his personal bank account, leaving a balance of $15.02.”
That last line is a dagger. He took $20 out and has $15 – total! – in the family bank account.
9. “On or about April 2, 2010, Duncan Hunter claimed a $257.40 reimbursement from Campaign funds for driving his car on a 468-mile trip to Virginia Beach with Individual 14, Congressman A, and Congressman A’s date despite the fact that they did not use Duncan car on the trip.”
Wait, you have to use the actual car to get reimbursed for the miles? Huh!
10. “On or about May 19, 2010, in Santee, California, Margaret Hunter spent $307.72 in campaign funds at Target to purchase a tablecloth, three square pillows, a three-piece brush set, a metal tray, four temporary shades, four window panels, a white duck, two Punky Brewster items, a ring pop, and two five-packs of ‘animals.’ In order to conceal and disguise this illegal charge, Hunter falsely told the Treasurer that it was for ‘teacher/parent supporter events.’”
Punky Brewster! Soleil Moon Frye! What a blast from the past. Also, I’m interested in knowing more about this “white duck” purchase.
11. “On or about September 13, 2010, in San Diego, California, Duncan Hunter spent $164.29 in Campaign funds for, among other things, a round of golf and beer at Riverwalk Golf Club with Individual 1A. When asked by the Treasurer if this expenditure (among several others) was campaign related, Duncan Hunter falsely responded, ‘Yessir- All good.’”
The next time someone asks me if I just broke the law, I am going to respond “Yessir, all good.” Amazing.
12. “On or about December 22, 2010, after the Treasurer again warned the Hunters that ‘campaign funds may not be used for a leisure outing’ even if campaign business is occasionally discussed, Margaret Hunter told the Treasurer that she refused to provide the names of individuals she allegedly took out for meals with campaign funds because ‘that’s silly.’”
“Yessir, all good!”
13. “On or about June 17, 2011 in La Mesa, California, Duncan Hunter spent $142.36 in campaign funds at the Men’s Wearhouse to ‘re-cut’ two pairs of pants. When this charge was uncovered by the Treasurer, Duncan Hunter falsely explained the charge: ‘Lol. Men’s warehouse was a possible semi-embarrassment that I had to let ride. I used the wrong card, then didn’t want to explain the forced refund…’”
Oh, I see. You didn’t want people to know you got your pants tailored at Men’s Wearhouse. Or you used the wrong card? Or something? “That’s silly.”
14. “On or about August 6 to 10, 2011, in Las Vegas, Nevada and elsewhere, the Hunters spent $2,448.27 in campaign funds on a personal vacation with Individuals 3A and 3B. During this vacation, the HUNTER family bank account began incurring insufficient funds fees until a check from Duncan parents was deposited into the account on August 10.”
A cringe-worthy detail. Even as Hunter was allegedly spending freely from campaign dollars, he was hitting his parents up for money.
15. “On or about September 12, 2011, despite opposition by his Treasurer and individuals in his Washington, DC. office, Duncan Hunter hired Margaret Hunter as his ‘Campaign Manager’ at a salary of $2,000 per month.”
This is a move made out of desperation given the Hunters’ personal financial situation. And it’s one that in retrospect made things much, much worse.
16. “On or about September 16 to 19, 2011, in Boise, Idaho and elsewhere, the Hunters spent an additional $640.05 in Campaign funds for a family vacation centered on a family member’s participation in a dance competition.”
Oh yeah, I’ve seen that one.
17. “On or about February 8 and 16, 2012, the Hunters spent $306.80 in campaign funds at United Airlines for additional charges related to a ticket for Margaret’s mother to fly from San Diego to Chicago. In response to whether the charge was campaign related, Duncan Hunter told his Treasurer: ‘Yes sir.’”
Works. Every. Time.
18. “On or about October 30, 2012, following an article in the San Diego Reader publicizing Margaret’s salary and various expense reimbursements, Duncan Hunter relieved her of her formal duties with the campaign. Although the campaign was in dire financial condition, and had just canceled a pre-election mailer due to insufficient funds, Duncan Hunter continued to pay Margaret Hunter a salary from campaign funds and allowed her to keep her campaign credit card.”
So, the congressman fires his wife as campaign manager after getting some bad press. But he keeps paying her! And lets her still have access to a campaign credit card! (Here’s the original San Diego Reader story.)
19. “On or about December 13, 2013, in Reston, Virginia, Duncan Hunter spent $63.57 in campaign funds at Best Buy to purchase a pair of gloves and a car charger for an upcoming trip to Pittsburgh.”
Who the heck buys gloves from a Best Buy?
20. “On or about December 30, 2013, after considering the benefits of bringing more money to the household on a basis, Duncan Hunter hired Margaret Hunter back as Campaign Manager at a salary of $2,500 per month (although the Campaign ended up actually paying her $3,000 per month).”
21. “On or about July 9, 2014, the Hunters spent $250 in campaign funds at United Airlines to fly a family pet to Washington, DC. for a family vacation.”
You can’t go on a true family vacation without the family pet!
22. “On or about October 22, 2014, in San Diego, California, Duncan Hunter spent $204.34 in campaign funds for two greens fees, food, and drinks at the Rancho Bernardo Golf Resort, during a personal golf outing with friends, including Individual 1A. To conceal and disguise his illegal activity, he misled his Chief of Staff by describing his regular golf outing with Individual 1A as ‘a Christian thing’ with a supporter.”
A “Christian thing”? Yessir, all good!
23. “On or about March 20, 2015, when Duncan Hunter told Margaret Hunter that he was planning ‘to buy my Hawaii shorts’ but had run out of money, she counseled him to buy the shorts at a golf pro shop so that they could falsely describe the purchase later as ‘some [golf] balls for the wounded warriors.’”
Of all the things the Hunters have allegedly done wrong, this one is, by far, the worst.
24. “On or about July 29, 2015, in Chula Vista, California, Margaret Hunter spent $253.62 in Campaign funds at SeaWorld’s Aquatica Family Waterpark to entertain family members. To conceal and disguise this illegal payment, she suggested to the Treasurer that the charges should be classified as an ‘educational tour’ as they were related to a ‘daylong entrance and educational meet on their issues and programs.’”
Epic – and I mean truly epic – spin here.
25. “On or about August 17, 2015, Margaret Hunter spent $152.25 in campaign funds at to make an online purchase of cosmetics. To conceal and disguise this illegal charge, she falsely told the Treasurer that the charge was for ‘gift basket items Boys and Girls Clubs of San Diego.’”
26. “On or about September 26, 2015, in Anaheim, California, the Hunters spent $229.44 in Campaign funds at Disneyland’s Star Trader shop on gifts, including two Minnie Mouse Ear headbands, a Star Wars droid knit beanie, and a raglan-sleeve black-and-gray Star Wars girls T-shirt. In order to conceal and disguise this transaction, Margaret Hunter falsely informed the Treasurer that the charge was for ‘food/bev.’”
Tell me more about this Star Wars droid knit beanie…
27. “On or about November 23, 2015 in an attempt to justify the use of campaign funds to pay for the family’s trip to Italy, Duncan Hunter attempted to set up a day tour of a US naval facility in Italy. After Navy officials responded that they could only provide a tour on a particular date, Duncan Hunter said he would discuss the proposed date with Margaret Hunter, then subsequently told his Chief of Staff, ‘tell the Navy to go f*** themselves [no alteration in original],’ and no tour occurred.”
He seems nice!
28. “On or about February 1, 2016, in response to questions raised by the Treasurer for about ten months, Margaret Hunter falsely claimed for the first time that the Steam Games charges were fraudulent.”
I was hacked!
29. “On or about March 4, 2016, in Washington, DC, Duncan Hunter spent $462.46 in Campaign funds for 30 shots of tequila and one steak at El Tamarindo restaurant during Individual 8’s bachelor party.”
Uh, waiter, yes I’d like to make an order please. Can I have 30 shots of tequila? Also, one steak. Thanks!
30. “On or about December 31, 2016, in Alpine, California, Duncan Hunter authorized Margaret Hunter to continue receiving a salary for purportedly being the Campaign Manager.”
“Yessir, all good!”