Indicted GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter’s 12 Most Insane Campaign Expenditures

Indicted GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter’s 12 Most Insane Campaign Expenditures

'The Hunters spent $250 in Campaign funds at United Airlines to fly a family pet (rabbit) to Washington, DC. for a family vacation.'
Ellie Bufkin
By

The federal indictment of Duncan and Margaret Hunter on was unsealed on Tuesday, revealing the findings of a yearlong investigation by the Department of Justice into the congressman and his wife. According to the indictment, the couple had converted more than $250,000 from Duncan’s campaign funds to personal expenses. The full document clocks in at a whopping 47 pages and includes damning details that show the Hunters as two people with a disturbing pattern of spending well beyond their means, and a habit of lying about anything necessary to keep access to the campaign cash.

Together, the Hunters racked up about $37,000 worth of bank overdraft fees and returned check fees over a seven year period on their personal checking and savings accounts, while having maxed out credit cards, and even accepting money from Hunter’s parents at one point (detailed in indictment). Among many other things, the Hunters used the campaign money on dental work, gasoline, to pay their children’s tuition, and on thousands of dollars in utility bills. After reading through the indictment, it’s hard to imagine what they could have used their own honest money for.

The document portrays Duncan as an avid golfer, and a lover of high-end seafood, athletic apparel, and tequila shots. He uses Uber extensively when out of town, particularly to visit variously unnamed “individuals” in hotels and their personal residences in the Washington, D.C. area.

Margaret did most of her unauthorized spending on various airfare and hotels for herself, her husband and children, and even for extended family members to travel. She was under the impression that hotels and airfare booked through travel website, Expedia, would not bear the names or destinations of the travelers. Also an avid supporter of big box retailers, Margaret spent tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds at Costco, Target, Wal-Mart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and various grocers.

Things only got worse when they made decisions together. Here are 12 of the most noteworthy expenditures from the indictment, plus an astonishing quote from Duncan about the Navy.

1. $200 on a golf outing disguised as a ‘Christian thing? with a supporter.’

“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. event held at the hotel.'”

2. A zipline ride

On or about July 13, 2014, in Farmington, Duncan Hunter spent $1,067 in Campaign funds, including $399 for a zipline ride, at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort for family activities that were not part of a scheduled Work event.

3. 30 shots of tequila and a steak dinner

On or about March 4, 2016, in Washington, D.C., Duncan Hunter spent $462.46 in Campaign funds for 30 shots of tequila and on steak at El Tamarindo restaurant during Individual 8’s bachelor party.

4. A Target shopping spree

“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.’”

5. ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’

On or about November 6, 2010, in San Diego, California, Margaret Hunter spent $704 in Campaign funds at the Old Globe Theatre for seven adult and five children’s tickets to the play, ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas.’ Margaret Hunter later falsely described this purchase to the Treasurer as being for ‘holiday gift certificates.’

6. Tickets to Warsaw for mom and mom’s boyfriend

“On or about April 20, 2015, Margaret Hunter spend $995.50 in Campaign funds at United Airlines to buy tickets for her mother and her mother’s boyfriend to fly to Warsaw, Poland. Margaret Hunter falsely told the Treasurer that they were related to Campaign trips to New Orleans and Kentucky.”

7. Dental bills, disguised as a charitable contribution

“On or about August 5, 2015 in La Mesa, California, Margaret Hunter spent $700 in campaign funds at a local dentist to continue to pay down the family’s overdue balance. In order to conceal and disguise this illegal payment, she told the treasurer that part of the payment was a charitable contribution for ‘Smiles for Life.’”

8. $200 on running shoes, disguised as equipment for wounded warriors

“On or about August 16, 2015, in El Cajon, California, Margaret Hunter spent $216.50 in Campaign funds at Dick’s Sporting Goods to purchase a pair of running shoes and other items. To conceal and disguise this illegal charge, Margaret Hunter falsely informed the Treasurer that the items were for an annual dove hunting event involving wounded warriors and were, therefore, ‘equipment related (event supplies).’”

9. A flight to D.C. for the pet bunny

“On or about July 9, 2014, the Hunters spent $250 in Campaign funds at United Airlines to fly a family pet (rabbit) to Washington, DC. for a family vacation.”

10. More than $1,000 on video games

“On or about March 16. 2015, in Alpine, California, the Hunters spent $19.99 in Campaign funds at Steam Games to pay for video game charges, one of 82 separate occasions in 2015 that the Hunters spent a total of $1,528.68 in Campaign funds at Steam Games on video game charges.”

11. ‘Hawaii shorts,’ disguised as golf balls for wounded warriors

“On or about March 20, 2015, 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.’”

 12. A $14,000 trip to Italy and other family vacations

“On or about April 7, 2015, in Lahaina, Hawaii, the Hunters spent $6,288.74 in Campaign funds at the Aston Kaanapali Shores resort to pay for a family vacation. … On or about November 19 to 29 2015, the Hunters spent $14,261.33 (including airfare) in Campaign funds to pay for a family vacation to Italy.”

Bonus: ‘Tell the navy to go fuck themselves’

“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 U.S. 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.”

Read the full indictment here.

Ellie Bufkin is the co-host of the movie podcast "Flix It" and a senior contributor to The Federalist. Ellie worked in the wine industry as a journalist and sommelier. You can follow her on Twitter @ellie_bufkin and on Instagram @exsommellie.

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