Is Duncan Hunter throwing his wife under the bus?

It sure looks like Rep. Duncan Hunter, (R-CA50) is blaming his wife for his legal problems as his mid-term re-election date approaches. In a stunning interview with Fox’s Martha MacCallum, his first interview since being indicted, along with his wife, Margaret, for illegal use of campaign funds and filing false reports, Hunter appeared to do exactly that.  (emphasis mine)

He also said that his wife handled most of the family expenses when he was first deployed to Iraq in 2003 and that she continued to manage them when he joined Congress.

“When I went away to Iraq in 2003, the first time, I gave her power of attorney. She handled my finances throughout my entire military career and that continued on when I got into Congress… She was also the campaign manager so whatever she did, that’ll be looked at too, I’m sure, but I didn’t do it.”

Yikes. He’s saying, “Hey. Don’t look at me. She did it!”

The sum we’re looking at here is $250,000 in illegally converted campaign donations into personal expenses and then filing false records on those purchases in campaign reports. Both husband and wife have pled not guilty.

The California congressman is accused of using campaign funds to pay for private school tuition, clothing, dental work, and overseas travel for relatives. Hunter describes the trips, however, as fundraisers and just business as usual.

But Hunter said that the trips flagged by the Justice Department as personal vacations paid for with campaign funds “were fundraisers,” and that he and his wife are innocent of the accused wrongdoing.

“That’s how we campaigned and tried to raise money, is by travelling, having dinners, meeting people,” Hunter told Fox’s Martha MacCallum.

Hunter admits to some wrongdoing, or “mistakes”, and says he paid some money back to the campaign. Meanwhile, Speaker Paul Ryan has stripped Hunter of his committee assignments while the investigation moves forward.

Hunter calls the indictment politically motivated. That wouldn’t be hard to believe. He represents a district that easily went for Trump in 2016 and Hunter was one of Trump’s first supporters in the House. (The Hill)

Lawyers for Hunter and state Republicans have questioned the timing of the indictment, which came just days after the state’s Republican primary and after it was too late for another GOP candidate to be put on the ballot.

The whole story is surprising, given Hunter’s background and career. The day after the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks, he quit his job as an information technology business analyst and joined the Marines. He graduated from training at Quantico and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He completed two tours in Iraq and after being honorably discharged remained in the Marine Corps Reserve. He was called up to be deployed to Afghanistan. Hunter holds the seat his father held for many years. These “mistakes” seem like unforced errors by someone who knew better.

The indictment is 47 pages long. The details are enough to make anyone raise an eyebrow, if true. The indictment shows a history of continual bank overdrafts, family vacations to Italy, Hawaii, Las Vegas, and other places, vacations with his wife, purchases of personal and household items at retailers like Costco, Walmart, and Target, and receiving money from his parents to cover insufficient funds in his bank account. Yikes.

Journalist Salena Zito brought up a good point, too, on Twitter. How does this man still have a security clearance, given the financial mess he’s in? Or does he have one? He sits on the House Armed Services Committee among others.

https://twitter.com/SalenaZito/status/1032973871656390656

He will remain on the ballot and plans to continue campaigning for his seat. What a mess for California Republicans for what is considered a ‘safe’ seat.