Written by Samuel Trilling – OCCRP
Margaret Hunter, the wife of US Congressman Duncan D. Hunter, changed her plea on Thursday from not guilty to guilty of misusing quarter of a million dollars of campaign funds to pay for lavish vacations, extravagant parties, and other personal expenses.
While Margaret Hunter will plead guilty, her husband – who faces similar charges – has not made any changes to his plea. The Hunters, married for over 20 years, have hired separate defense teams, and avoid sitting next to each other in court.
The California representative blamed his wife in August for misusing campaign funds, saying that she was the campaign manager and managed his finances while he was serving in the military and as an elected official. Court records show that the Hunter’s personal accounts were overdrawn or empty during their spending sprees.
“I don’t think there’s anything illegal about not having money in your bank account,” the Congressman told reporters.
“But I didn’t do it,” Representative Hunter said. “I didn’t spend any money illegally.”
However, the charges filed against him claim that he was repeatedly warned about his wife’s misuse of funds by other campaign staff, which he ignored.
Federal Election Commission reports show that Hunter repaid tens of thousands of dollars back to the campaign in 2017, but did not repay all of the alleged $250,000.
The conservative Congressman is seeking reelection in 2020 in his Republican dominated district, which he won with a slight margin in 2018. Hunter’s father also served as representative in his district for nearly 30 years, with his son taking over after the 2008 election.
Duncan D. Hunter has been somewhat of a Congressional ‘enfant terrible,’ standing up for an ex-Navy SEAL accused of premeditated murder, whom President Trump is considering pardoning. Hunter downplayed the soldier’s actions by admitting that he took a photo with a corpse of a dead enemy soldier during his time in the Marine Corps, and that other service members have done similar things.
He also infamously used a vaporizer (vape) on the floor of Congress while testifying that its use should be allowed on planes.
The Hunters’ trials are currently scheduled to end in the fall.