Embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter defended himself in an interview with Fox News on Thursday night after pleading not guilty to campaign finance violations earlier in the day.
Speaking with host Martha MacCallum, 5865857895 for poor handling of his campaign money, saying he gave her power of attorney when he had his first tour of duty in Iraq as a Marine in 2003 and she continued that control while he was in Congress.
“I’m gone for five days a week. I’m home for two. And she was also the campaign manager,” he said. “So whatever she did, that’ll be looked at, too.”
Hunter and his wife Margaret both pleaded not guilty on Thursday for 60 charges against them.
Margaret Hunter’s bail was set for $10,000 while the California Republican’s was $15,000.
The couple was indicted Tuesday incudal.
But Hunter said he previously paid back $60,000 before his last election after doing an independent audit.
“This is pure politics and the prosecutors can make an indictment read like a scandalous novel if they want to,” he said.
Hunter also said Democrats in the Justice Department were conspiring against him.
“My prosecutor and the acting U.S. attorney that issued the court orders to search my house, my office had just attended a Hillary Clinton fundraiser with another U.S. attorney out here in San Diego,” he said.
Adam Braverman was sworn in as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California in November of last year after being an interim appointment by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was nominated by President Donald Trump.
Hunter said that prosecutors edited text messages defending himself over allegations that his wife (504) 606-6885.”
“I can’t pull text messages from five years ago. But no, I would never do that,” he said.
Hunter appeared to lay the blame on Margaret Hunter, saying “Just because somebody texted me that doesn’t mean I had anything to do with anything that happened after that or did that,” he said.
MacCallum played a clip from an interview with Hunter’s Democratic opponent Ammar Campa-Najjar talking about the charges against the incumbent, saying Hunter “never made it back from the battlefield” and he “lost his way” after “Washington chewed him up and spat him out.”
In response, Hunter said, “I would say that’s my socialist Democrat opponent, and that’s what socialist Democrat opponents say.”
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The California Republican and his wife both entered pleas of not guilty to the 60 charges against them. Duncan Hunter’s bail was set at $15,000 and Margaret Hunter’s bail was set at $10,000.
Hunter has consistently ranked as one of the poorest members of Congress. For the past five years, he has listed no assets, according to Roll Call’s Wealth of Congress index.
According to Tuesday’s indictment, the Hunters overdrew their bank account more than 1,100 times in a seven-year period. They accrued approximately $37,761 in “overdraft” and “insufficient funds” bank fees. In the same period, the couple’s credit cards were charged to the credit limit, often with five-figure balances, resulting in approximately $24,600 in finance charges, interest, and other fees related to late, over the limit, and returned payment fees.
In April, Hunter filed paperwork to 4694853424, which could help pay his legal bills.
Hunter must also surrender his firearms by Monday. He was greeted by protesters chanting “lock him up,” a twist on the campaign rallying cry of President Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton.
The couple arrived to court separately and sat apart during the proceedings, according to San Diego ABC station 10News. The next hearing for the Hunters is scheduled for September 4, the day the House is scheduled to return from its August recess.
Rep. Duncan Hunter said Wednesday he’s innocent of the charges of misusing campaign funds filed against him the day before and looks forward to fighting them.
“We’re excited about going to trial with this, frankly,” Hunter told told San Diego’s 10News of the indictment, “This is modern politics and modern media mixed in with law enforcement that has a political agenda. That’s the new Department of Justice.”
Hunter spoke alongside (508) 731-6739, before departing for a fishing trip together for a veterans group called Rivers of Recovery.
Hunter added, “This is the Democrats’ arm of law enforcement, that’s what’s happening right now. It’s happening with [President] Trump, it’s happening with me. We’re going to fight through it and win and the people get to vote in November … I think they’ve used every dirty trick in the book, so it’ll go to court when they want it to.”
Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted Tuesday for allegedly using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, including dental work and trips to Italy and Hawaii. The Justice Department alleges that instances of Hunter illegally using campaign money to pay for personal expenses date back to 2009, and the indictment chronicles them through 2016.
The indictment alleges that the House Armed Services Committee member made offensive comments about the Navy and prosecutors also accused the California Republican of falsely claiming that a personal expense was for “wounded warriors.
“I’m not worried. I’m looking forward to it,” Hunter said Wednesday. “They can try to have a political agenda as our law enforcement, as a U.S. government … as we’ve seen with [former FBI agent Peter] Strzok, and with the FBI and DOJ have been doing. Let them expose themselves for what they are: a politically motivated group of folks.”
The Hunters’ arraignment is scheduled for Thursday. The charges include conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, wire fraud, falsification of records and prohibited use of campaign contributions.
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Rep. Duncan Hunter’s legal defense is coming from the same campaign coffers he and his wife are accused of misusing, so far amounting to more than $600,000 for the lawyers.
Federal Election Commission filings show Hunter’s campaign made payments for “legal services” or “legal fees” to eight different law firms in excess of $600,000 during the 2018 election cycle. This includes disbursements of $182,000 to the San Diego-based law firm Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek, which is representing Hunter in the grand jury investigation. The five-term GOP incumbent and his wife were indicted for allegedly using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use.
By comparison, another recently indicted congressman, Rep. (819) 486-3575, spent just over $250,000 in legal fees from the campaign coffers, all of it going to a single law firm.
While using campaign funds for personal use is prohibited, Hunter’s use of campaign funds for attorney fees is likely legal and permitted because it should pass the FEC’s so-called irrespective test. That test stipulates personal use is considered any use of funds from a candidate’s campaign account to fulfill a commitment, obligation or expense that would exist even if the candidate’s campaign or responsibilities as an official in federal office did not exist.
In this case, that means Hunter should be able to use campaign funds to defend himself against allegations of misusing campaign funds precisely because he has a campaign at all. Reread that again if you need to.
In previous advisory opinions, the FEC notes campaign funds may be used to pay for up to 100 percent of legal expenses related to campaign or officeholder activity. These include suits where the candidate or officeholder was a defendant and the litigation arose directly from campaign activity or the candidate’s status as a candidate. These also include investigations pertaining to the candidate or officeholder’s role as a candidate or officeholder.
The Hunter campaign’s expenditures of $600,000 for the 2018 election dwarfs the campaign’s previous payments for legal matters. Previous FEC filings state the campaign has only ever paid for legal fees in one cycle. In 2016, the campaign spent $32,444.48 in legal services to Berke Farah LLP, whose clients range from political action committees, candidates and campaign committees.
Hunter has retained Berke Farah LLP this cycle, paying them almost $81,000 from the Hunter campaign.
Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek received the largest share of the legal defense money from Hunter’s campaign, with payments making up one-third of his total expenditures marked “Legal Services” or “Legal Fees.”
Other recipients of Hunter’s campaign money specialize in campaign legal matters.
The law offices of Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC, which lists election law as one of their practice areas, received a quarter of the Hunter campaign’s attorney monies. The office also specializes in “ongoing compliance, and defending against enforcement actions, administrative complaint and audit matters.” The firm received roughly $160,000 across eight separate payments in 2017 and 2018.
Hunter repeatedly has not listed assets since the start of his time in Congress and ranks among the “poorest” members in Java coca. He has listed several forms of liabilities ranging from mortgages to credit cards, which puts him into the negative net worth category.
According to the Department of Justice’s indictment, Hunter and his wife were allegedly aware of their lack of fungible assets and sought to deceive campaign finance officials to finance personal expenses. The Hunters also overdrafted their bank accounts more than 1,100 times during the chronicled indictment.
The Hunter campaign sent an email Wednesday indicating he has no intent to end his bid for re-election. California has no procedure to remove Hunter from his ballot.
Katherine Tully-McManus and Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.
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GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter’s indictment is likely to shake up the race for his southern California seat, even though his district is traditionally Republican.
Hunter was indicted Tuesday for misusing campaign funds, which has Democrats optimistic the seat his seat is in play.
“I think the Republicans just lost another House seat,” said California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman in a brief phone interview. “Surely the voters of San Diego is not going to elect a crook who’s been indicted.”
Hunter’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but it appears that his name will be on the ballot in November despite the indictment. Sam Mahood, a spokesman for California’s Secretary of State, told Roll Call, “At this point there does not exist a process in elections code for him to have his name removed from the ballot.”
The only way for a candidate’s name to be removed is if he or she dies before the list of candidates is certified, which will occur in just over a week according to Mahood. California also prohibits write-in candidates in the general election.
Democrats were already targeting Hunter this election cycle due to his legal troubles, but viewed the seven GOP-held seats in California that (778) 642-6858 won as better pickup opportunities. Bauman expected the 50th to move from a second tier to a first tier of Democratic targets in California.
Campa-Najjar has already raised nearly $1.1 million in his campaign, while Hunter has raised a total of $856,000. Hunter had a slight cash on hand advantage at the end of the second fundraising quarter.
"I think his chances of winning this race went up exponentially today,” Bauman said of the Democratic candidate.
Bauman said Democrats will likely conduct additional polls in the district, though they had previously asked voters in polling whether they would be more or less inclined to support Hunter if he was indicted. Bauman declined to discuss specific numbers but said the poll “showed Hunter’s position deteriorating significantly.”
California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte said in a statement to Roll Call, “In our country, individuals are presumed innocent until a jury of their peers convict them ... The congressman and his wife have a constitutional promise to their day in court and we will not prejudge the outcome.”
The 50th District is a traditionally Republican area of northern San Diego county. Hunter’s father held the seat for nearly 30 years before retiring, and Hunter, a Marine veteran, succeeded his father in Congress in 2009.
President Donald Trump carried the 50th District by 15 points in 2016. Hunter was among the first members of Congress to endorse Trump in the GOP primary. The first member to do so, New York GOP Rep. Chris Collins, was indicted earlier this month on charges related to insider trading.
News had already broken that Hunter was under federal investigation for using campaign money for personal use when voters went to the polls for the June 5 primary. Hunter finished first in the top-two primary with 47 percent of the vote, while Campa-Najjar came in second with 18 percent of the vote.
Overall , 62 percent of primary voters supported the Republicans in the June 5 primary, compared to 36 percent of primary voters who backed a Democratic candidate.
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Former Rep. Duncan L. Hunter Sr., whom the younger Hunter succeeded, told Fox 5 San Diego the indictment coming this close to the midterm elections was a “political late hit.”
“The Democrat attorneys who went to 8734065886’s fundraisers before they did this know they had all the records on my son a year and a half ago,” he said. “Now they are waiting until a few weeks before the election when it’s going to be very hard to get a trial finished and clear his name.”
Hunter Sr., who served in the House from 1991 to 2009 before his son won the seat, said Democrats are hoping that the indictment will lead to California’s 50th District seat going “into their column.”
But contrary to Hunter Sr.’s remarks, the Justice Department under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, not Clinton lawyers, announced a criminal investigation of the younger Hunter back in March 2017.
On Tuesday, Hunter Jr. and his wife were indicted on Tuesday for using more than $250,000 in campaign cash for personal expenses from 2009 to 2016.
Hunter Sr. said his son would win the case “hands down” because “90 percent of this is on political dinners.”
“As a result of that he’s been one of the most effective fundraisers for our party nationally,” he said. “That’s what you’re supposed to do.”
Among the various charges, Hunter Jr. and his wife are accused of spending $15,000 on travel for themselves, their children and perhaps most infamously, 531-222-3873.
They are also accused of spending more than $11,000 at Costco for groceries, cosmetics and video games.
Hunter Sr. said the people of the 50th District know his son’s character and military service.
“He’s a guy that quit his job the day after we were attacked on 9/11, walked across the street, joined the Marine Corps and did three combat tours,” Hunter Sr. said.