Another Republican congressman was indicted Tuesday, as Rep. Duncan Hunter of California was charged with using hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars for personal expenses, according to CNN.
Hunter and his wife and campaign manager, Margaret Hunter, face charges of wire fraud, falsifying records, conspiracy and campaign finance violations after trying to cover their overwhelming debt with campaign funds.
“By virtue of these delinquencies — as well as notifications of outstanding debts and overdue payments from their children’s school, their family dentist, and other creditors — the Hunters knew that many of their desired purchases could only be made by using campaign funds,” the indictment read.
How did this happen?
The Department of Justice has been investigating the Hunters for more than a year, and found that the Hunters “knowingly conspired with each other to “illegally [convert] more than $250,000” in campaign funds for personal use.
According to the indictment, the Hunters were drowning in debt caused by living above their means. Over a seven-year period, the couple racked up $37,761 in overdraft and insufficient funds bank fees due to more than 1,100 overdraws of their account.
The Federal Election Commission was drawn to look into the Hunters’ finances when unusual charges like vacations, bar tabs and even airfare for a pet rabbit to fly with the family showed up on Hunter’s campaign credit card.
Duncan Hunter is accused of ordering his treasurer to get his wife a campaign credit card even though she didn’t work for the campaign. He later made her the campaign manager so they could take on an extra salary for the family.
Hunter has insinuated that his wife Margaret is responsible for the illegal spending.
“There was wrong campaign spending, but it was not done by me,” Hunter said earlier this year, according to KGTV.
Duncan Hunter is running in a solidly red district against Democratic challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar, a former Department of Labor aide in the Obama administration.
The indictments could put the seat at risk, although even if Hunter withdrew his name, it would still appear on the ballot under California law, and no write-in votes are allowed.
Trump won Hunter’s district, California’s 50th, by 15 points in 2016. Hunter was the second congressman to endorse Trump in the Republican primary. The first, Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) was also indicted this month for insider trading.
An internal poll from the Campa-Najjar campaign in July showed the Democrat is within 9 points of Hunter, with a margin of error of 4.89 percent.