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Rep. Duncan Hunter, his wife indicted on campaign finance charges

By Daniel Uria
Rep. Duncan Hunter, his wife indicted on campaign finance charges
California Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife Margaret Hunter were indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday for allegdly spending $250,000 in campaign finances on personal expenses and falsifying campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission to hide the spending. File Photo courtesy U.S. House

Aug. 21 (UPI) -- U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret Hunter, were indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday for allegedly using campaign funds for personal use.

The court documents charge Hunter, a Republican representative from California, and his wife with 60 counts including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, falsification of records, and aiding and abetting prohibited use of campaign contributions, the San Diego Union Tribune reported.

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The couple spent $250,000 in campaign finances on personal expenses such as video games, private school tuition, oral surgery and utilities between 2009 and 2016, and falsified campaign finance reports with the Federal Election Commission to hide the spending, the filings allege.

In order to mask the spending the couple listed expenditures as charity donations, including filing dental bills as a charitable contribution to "Smiles for Life" and tickets to see Riverdance at the San Diego Civic Theater as a donation to "San Diego Civic Center for Republican Women Federated/Fundraising," the Los Angeles Times reported.

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"The indictment alleges that Congressman Hunter and his wife repeatedly dipped into campaign coffers as if they were personal bank accounts, and falsified FEC campaign finance reports to cover their tracks," U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman said. "Elected representatives should jealously guard the public's trust, not abuse their positions for personal gain. Today's indictment is a reminder that no one is above the law."

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Hunter began reimbursing the campaign in 2010 and by November 2017 had repaid more than $60,000 for what his campaign described as "personal, mistaken and insufficiently documented expenditures."

"In order to lower suspicions and reduce the risk of detection, Duncan Hunter decided that they would use personal funds to repay the campaign for Margaret Hunter's purchases," the indictment states.

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The indictment also states the couple had nearly reached five-figure limits on most of their credit cards and lived far beyond their means during the period in question.

"Throughout the relevant period, the Hunters spent substantially more than they earned," it stated. "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."

Hunter's campaign issued a statement Tuesday alleging the federal attorneys involved in the indictment attended a "Hillary Clinton for President" fundraiser on Aug. 27, 2015, and were politically motivated to indict him due to his support for President Donald Trump.

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Hunter's attorney, Gregory Vega, said the indictment "reflects a loss of impartiality and appears to be an effort to derail" Hunter's efforts to be re-elected in the upcoming midterm elections.

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