Federal prosecutors are going after California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter for using campaign cash to bankroll five extramarital affairs, a court filing issued Monday night revealed.
Hunter is accused in the filing of campaign funds to wine and dine his partners, and even take them on vacation. In his defense, Hunter is arguing that the prosecution is politically biased against him because he supports President Donald Trump.
The filing alleges that Hunter, a congressman with a reputation as a heavy-drinking bro who once vaped on the floor of the House, used his campaign funds to fund his relationships with a woman who worked for his office, three lobbyists, and another who worked as a House leadership aide.
Last year, Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were charged with using more than $250,000 in campaign cash to pay for family vacations and their kids’ college tuition, charges that Hunter’s fighting but that his wife has already pled guilty to. She’s agreed to provide “substantial assistance to the United States in the investigation and prosecution of others,” and “tell everything (she) knows about every person involved,” according to a Justice Dept. Statement obtained by the New York Times.
The prosecutors, in the filing, are saying that airing the details of these relationships is necessary for them to make their case: They need to show that Hunter spent campaign money on personal expenses in a manner that he knew to be illegal.
“This evidence is necessary to establish the personal nature of the expenditures to demonstrate Hunter’s knowledge and intent to break the law, and to establish his motive to embezzle from his campaign,” they said in the filing.
The congressman allegedly used the money on everything from a road trip to Lake Tahoe, to Ubers to and from his partners’ houses, to drinks at the bar.
Hunter’s defense is basically the same as Trump’s has been in response to the Russia investigation: “Witch hunt.”
The congressman and his attorneys are claiming that the federal prosecutors on his case are biased against him because they supported Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. Two of the assistant attorneys working on the case were at a Clinton fundraiser in 2015, the defense alleges. Hunter’s lawyers tried to get the case thrown out on that basis, which didn’t work.
“You have criminally political prosecutors in this case on a personal smear campaign,” Hunter told Politico on Tuesday.
Hunter even wants the trial moved out of San Diego, on the grounds that the trial should be held in an area where more voters voted for Donald Trump.
“As President Trump’s first and most arduous supporter, it is hard not to see how a juror would be predisposed to cast their vote based on their politics,” Hunter’s lawyers wrote, according to Politico. “Hillary Clinton beat Donald J. Trump in San Diego County by 56.1% to 38.2%.”
Among the places where Hunter’s lawyers have suggested moving the trial is Lassen County, a tiny place with a population of just 31,000 where Trump trounced Clinton, 73% to 21%.
Cover: Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) speaks to campaign staffers during a visit to one of his headquarters on November 6, 2018 in Santee, California. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)