The horrible saga of right-wing Congressman Duncan Hunter from California just keeps getting more pathetic and disgusting each day.
It was bad that he misused campaign funds, spending the money on personal items. It was bad that he attempted to shift responsibility for his financial fraud, blaming both his wife and “the Deep State” for the crimes he committed.
But perhaps the worst thing yet to come out of this sad story is the fact that this huge pro-military Trump supporter was partying with donated money when he said he was helping military veterans. But instead of helping the veterans he was living the high life and partying at expensive bars and restaurants in Washington, D.C..
On Tuesday Hunter we reported that:
“U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California, was indicted on charges that he and his wife used campaign funds to pay for personal expenses and filed false campaign finance reports, federal officials said.”
Then, later in the week Hunter went on Fox News and did an interview saying that he was not responsible for the misuse of funds since his wife handled the money in the family, and he didn’t know what was going on.
“Whatever she did, that will be looked at, too, I’m sure,” he said. “I didn’t do it. I didn’t spend any money illegally.”
Which was ridiculous, since he and his wife both used the money to take trips together, go to concerts together, and go to fancy restaurants together. He also said he couldn’t afford to live on the $174,000 annual salary paid to him by the taxpayers of the United States for being a Congressman, which led to widespread ridicule from people living on the minimum wage.
So after all of that, the New York Times has published a lengthy article about Hunter that details the shocking lifestyle he lived in Washington, spending money that wasn’t his to spend. It says that back home in San Diego Hunter was a normal suburban husband and father. But when in Washington, he paid hundreds of dollars for tequila shots and spent thousands on fancy dinners.
“He was here a lot, some days he was in here multiple times a day,” said Stephanie Connon, a manager of the Capitol Hill bar Bullfeathers.
Hunter’s problems began around Christmas of 2009, when he wrote on his website about a need for “greater financial freedom” and complained about the national debt. “Most often, I hear concerns from working Americans about the future of their children and grandchildren, and the debt burden they will unfairly inherit,” he wrote at the time. He also wrote, “The federal government is like a family that has overspent and racked up too many bills.”
It was in 2009 that Hunter’s theft of funds began, when he didn’t have enough money to pay for a ski weekend at Lake Tahoe. So, he dipped into campaign funds to pay for the trip, according to the indictment. Charges appeared for a rental car and for the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort Spa and Casino. The $1,359 he spent in Tahoe was just the beginning. Later there was a family trip to Italy that cost $14,261.33, and many more trips, concerts and fancy dinners. The indictment details that Hunter and his wife eventually started paying even mundane household expenses from the campaign account, including trips to the grocery store.
The couple tried to claim that the personal expenses were meant for charitable causes, including veterans’ charities. When keeping the campaign books they often labelled personal expenses as “donation to veterans’ charity.” Some veterans are now referring to him as a “blue falcon,” a term that means a person who sacrifices his friends for his own benefit.
According to military veterans who sought help from his office, it grew clear that Hunter wasn’t going to help them unless it meant a photo op or some camera time on Fox News.
“At some point, it became clear I shouldn’t be talking to his office,” said Kristofer Goldsmith, of High Ground Veterans Advocacy.
Hunter took over his father’s Congressional seat in San Diego after three combat tours of duty in Iraq.
But someone who has known Hunter for a long time, former California Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, said, “This is a tragic unraveling of someone who should probably never have gone to Congress.”
It is true that Duncan Hunter should never have gone to Congress. It is also true that the time has come for him to resign and find a different line of work.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.