Republicans are at it again. Shortly after his wife Margaret pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges and began cooperating with prosecutors, Republican California Congressman Duncan Hunter has now been revealed by federal prosecutors to have used some of the money they embezzled for at least five extramarital affairs that he carried on with. The relationships stretch back at least back to 2010, when the Trump supporting Congressman “took a lobbyist on a “double date” road trip to Virginia Beach with a fellow congressman and then charged his campaign for the hotel room and bar tab,” POLITICO describes.
Hunter apparently pursued people from Congressional aides to lobbyists to a 2015 employee of his Congressional office, and the expenses he billed his campaign for as part of these relationships ranged from those bar tabs to Uber fees and beyond. In response to the allegations, Hunter has resorted to familiarly vapid Trump-ian claims of prosecutors leading a “witch hunt” against him because of their past personal support of Hillary Clinton. Those prosecutors have asked the judge in Hunter’s case to admonish him to stop with this behavior, although they have not as of Tuesday asked for a formal gag order.
The prosecutors argue that the evidence surrounding his affairs they are preparing for Hunter’s September trial 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.” Although details of the potential agreement are sparse, the team says they tried to strike a deal with the Congressman’s side to make the introduction of this information at trial unnecessary, but Hunter’s lawyers refused.
Prosecutors are at this point seemingly withholding further details of Hunter using campaign money to “clearly non-work related activity during get-togethers with his close personal friends,” with POLITICO noting as a potential explanation that the Congressman “has developed a reputation on Capitol Hill for drinking heavily and carousing.” Prosecutors did note that they may call witnesses including his colleagues — which would mean fellow members of Congress. The team suggests they’ve already been in contact with at least some of these figures, noting that some of them have “understandably expressed their unwillingness or their displeasure at being required to answer questions related to Hunter’s conduct.”
As a whole, he and his wife are alleged to have funneled at least some $250,000 from his campaign coffers over the years. This money went to all sorts of things, from everyday expenses like groceries to vacations overseas and their children’s school tuition.
It’s not the only controversy he’s been involved in, freely wading into the debate surrounding Trump’s reported plans to pardon credibly accused war criminals with brags about taking selfies with corpses, as if we should be reassured that war crimes are… normal? Trump has not pardoned any of the war criminals in question, although there’s still the possibility that he might in the future.
Hunter doesn’t appear to have asked Trump to intervene in his fraud case — yet — but his team has asked for his case to be moved out of San Diego because they allege an area in which most people voted for Clinton in 2016 couldn’t produce a truly impartial jury. The judge has not yet ruled on that motion.
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