Charges Against California Congressman Purely Political, Spokesman Says

August 22, 2018 Updated: August 22, 2018

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) believes the campaign finance charges filed against him on Aug. 21 are “purely politically motivated,” according to his spokesman.

Federal officials indicted Hunter on charges that he and his wife used hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to pay for vacations, video games, and other personal expenses and filed false campaign finance reports.

Adam Braverman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California, said Hunter has been accused of conspiracy, wire fraud, falsification of records, and other charges.

Braverman said in a statement that a federal grand jury indicted the lawmaker and his wife on charges that they misused more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for family vacations, groceries, video games, meals and other personal expenses.

Hunter’s attorney, Gregory Vega, pointed out in an Aug. 6 letter to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that the investigation into his client appears to be politically motivated.

Vega said in the letter that Hunter, 41, was an early congressional supporter of Donald Trump for president while two members of the prosecution team had attended a private fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent in the 2016 presidential race.

Vega charged that the political leanings of the two prosecutors is a conflict of interest. The attorney said that the prosecutors themselves were rushing to bring the case because of “artificial pressure” from above.

“The overt political leanings of two individuals intimately involved in the investigation, combined with, among other things, the Southern District’s sudden, inexplicable rush to indict my client before the general election without affording him sufficient due process, create an actual and/or apparent conflict that cannot be ignored,” Vega wrote.

Another early backer of Trump, Republican Representative Chris Collins of New York, ended his bid for re-election earlier this month after he was charged with participating in an insider trading scheme.

Hunter was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called the charges against Hunter “deeply serious” and said that Hunter would be removed from his committee assignments pending resolution of the charges.

Hunter, a former Marine officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the Education and Workforce Committee. He represents a district that covers parts of San Diego County.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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