California Congressman Duncan Hunter admits he misused campaign cash on family vacations and plane tickets for pet rabbits
The Republican, who had succeeded his father in 2009, had been fighting allegations for over a year. Now, it has also been revealed that Hunter spent the money with mistresses
After fighting allegations against him for over a year, California Congressman Duncan Hunter has finally given in. The six-term Republican, who took office in January 2009, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, December 3, to misusing campaign funds amounting to $250,000.
While Hunter conferred to his actions inside the courtroom without showing any emotion, outside, he said in a statement: "I failed to monitor an account for my campaign spending. I made mistakes and that's what today was all about."
He, however, refused to say when he would demit office although prosecutors said he has planned to step down from his congressional seat.
Even the family pet rabbit got an air ticket
It has been learned from prosecutors that Hunter and his wife Margaret — the treasurer of his campaign — spent the money raised on themselves. They used the funds to sponsor a family trip to Italy, golf outings, groceries and even buy expensive air tickets for their pet rabbits Eggbert and Cadbury.
Hunter had earlier claimed that the expenses were made erroneously by his wife and son and reimbursed his campaign at least over $60,000.
It also became evident that Hunter squandered campaign money on outings with mistresses while being accompanied by other Congressmen though they were not named.
In a statement, the US Attorney's office said: "The Hunters stole money from the campaign for items as inconsequential as fast food, movie tickets, and sneakers; as trivial as video games, Lego sets and Playdoh; as mundane as groceries, dog food, and utilities; and as self-indulgent as luxury hotels, overseas vacations and plane tickets for their family pet rabbits, Eggburt and Cadbury – all while their family was otherwise deeply in debt."
"She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did that'll be looked at too, I'm sure," Hunter told Fox News in August last year while referring to Margaret.
The former US Marines member who has served in volatile regions like Iraq and Afghanistan also defended himself earlier saying prosecutors were politically biased against him. He said they were present at a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton and hence not expected to treat him fairly.
Hunter tried to save his wife
On Monday, December 2, Hunter said he was making the decision to save his wife from getting jailed since his children would need their mother. Speaking to KUSI News, California, he said: "I think my kids need a mom in the home. Whatever my time in custody will be, I will take that hit."
"I think it's important that people know that I did make mistakes. I did not properly monitor or account for my campaign money. I justify my plea with the understanding that I am responsible for my own campaign and my own campaign money."
Both Hunter and Margaret are facing five years in prison each. Prosecutor Phil Halpern slammed Hunter in the court over the latter's claim of political vendetta against him. "Mr. Hunter now faces resignation, disgrace and imprisonment," he added.
Hunter is the first US Marine veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan to get elected to the Congress and he succeeded his father Duncan Lee Hunter who served as the representative between 1981 and 2009.
In 2016, Hunter was among the early supporters of the campaign of President Donald Trump. He succeeded in his re-election bid last year despite facing federal indictment. He is due to be sentenced in March.