Opinion

We Just Learned Some Details About Duncan Hunter. None of Them Look Good for Him or His Wife.

Duncan Hunter (R) is a six-term congressman who is slated for a September trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on charges that he and his wife, Margaret Hunter, stole $250,000 in campaign funds. The couple is accused of siphoning campaign funds for hefty purchases at Abercrombie & Fitch, plastic surgery, vacations, nail salons, private school tuition, video games, and a $600 plane trip for the family’s pet rabbit, Eggburt. Hunter has denied wrongdoing, saying his wife handled all the finances.

Now that motions have been filed in Hunter’s criminal case, we’ve got more of the specific details, and they don’t look great for the former Marine. Here’s the narrative the court docs are laying out about Hunter:

1. He’s a habitual philanderer who let his campaign foot the bill for entertaining multiple mistresses.

We already knew that Hunter’s wife Margaret pleaded guilty to knowingly misusing campaign funds and flipped on him by cooperating with prosecutors. Now gory details are filling in the gaps about why she might have been so willing to do so.

The DOJ is seeking permission from the court to admit evidence of a highly-personal nature that it calls “essential to demonstrate that his spending to facilitate [extramarital affairs] was improper.” The DOJ’s motion lists five women, “Individuals 14-18,” who were lobbysts, staffers, and aides; Hunter entertained these women with everything from dinners to ski vacations to golf outings – and all the Uber rides in between. Each time, the campaign paid, and as the court docs put it, “carrying out all these affairs did not come cheap.”

Good to know that ol’ Duncan is so keen on “family values.”

2. He and his wife aren’t exactly financial wizards.

According to motion documents, one of the primary reasons the Hunters improperly used campaign money was that they didn’t have enough of their own funds. To avoid incurring overdraft charges for cigarette or liquor purchases, or to avoid embarrassment when a $2.45 cafeteria charge would be declined, Duncan would just use the campaign card to cover the expense. Evidence shows that husband and wife would regularly text each other about their account balances in what sounds like a pretty coordinated effort to stay afloat. Many of these exchanges discuss expenditures in the two-digits that were outside the couple’s personal budget — not a good look for a congressman looking to keep the public’s trust.

3.  He seems to hope the mere mention of Hillary Clinton will reflect so badly on his prosecutors that the whole case against him will evaporate.

In his motion to dismiss, Hunter mentions two Assistant U.S. Attorneys who attended a 2016 fundraiser for Clinton. His argument is a pathetic facsimile of the classic Trumpian whine: he’s being prosecuted because he publicly endorsed Trump.  He’s being targeted unfairly and unjustly.  We’re just missing the phrase, “witch hunt.”

4.  He is trying to hitch the defense’s wagon to Citizens United‘s star.

This one is kind of a whopper. Hunter argued that prosecuting him for misusing campaign funds would violate his fundamental right to free speech — drawing the free-speech/campaign-finance connection that was established in Citizens United. Hunter’s claim is that the government is over-prosecuting what amount to minute offenses, and that while they may technically amount to violations, the spirit of the law would be frustrated by actually holding him accountable.

This argument isn’t likely to go anywhere, primarily because Citizens United had exactly zero to do with criminal embezzlement.

[Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. She is a frequent media contributor, and is Of Counsel to Smedley & Lis, in Woodbury, New Jersey. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos

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