GOP lawmaker accused of misusing campaign funds: My wife handled the money

Dental bills golf outings a trip to Italy Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife are accused of misspending $250,00 in campaign funds

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who has been indicted on corruption charges related to the use of his campaign money, appeared to blame his wife for the predicament when he said in an interview Thursday night that she handled the finances for their family and his campaign.

Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) arrives for his arraignment at federal court in San Diego, California, U.S. August 23, 2018.

During Thursday's court hearing, prosecutors said Hunter and his wife were living paycheck to paycheck, had few assets and recommended low bond for the couple.

The indictment charged that the Hunters illegally dipped into campaign money for a total of about $250,000 between 2009-2016 to fund a lavish lifestyle that on the high end included vacations in Italy, London and Hawaii, and also included grocery and dentists' bills, bar tabs and fast-food takeouts.

One military veteran who worked in Hunter's office said that other combat veterans felt like the congressman gave them a voice on Capitol Hill. Hunter holds the seat his father held for many years.

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". "This is pure politics".

In April 2015, Margaret Hunter spent almost $1,000 in campaign funds to fly her mother and her mother's boyfriend to Poland and later told the campaign treasurer they were campaign trips to New Orleans and Kentucky, according to the court documents.

The language of the indictment also contradicted Duncan Hunter's contention that he was unaware of what his wife was doing.

Hunter and Rep. Chris Collins of NY endorsed Donald Trump in February, among the first elected officials to do so when the outsider candidate's nomination was far from certain.

They face 60 charges related to the alleged misuse of $250,000 in campaign money.

Campa-Najjar said the topic of violent crimes committed by Muhammad Yusuf al-Najjar didn't bother him, with regard to his campaign, especially in light of the charges Rep. Hunter is now facing. He said he would continue to fight to clear his name.

The Democratic Party added Hunter's district to its list of targets months ago, and on Wednesday, election handicappers at the Cook Political Report assessed the district as merely "leaning" Republican, a change from its prior rating of "solid Republican".

"No, in fact, the events you were mentioning there were fundraisers", he said.

Hunter said he thinks he can still win re-election. "They've had a year and a half to do this".

Hunter and his wife were accused this week by the Justice Department of misusing thousands of dollars in campaign funds on personal trips, dental work, and global travel for almost a dozen of his relatives.