CALIFORNIA: Congressman Pleads Guilty to Stealing Campaign Funds

Photo: Duncan Hunter, member of the US House of Representatives in California, plead guilty to misusing a quarter million dollars in campaign funds last week

By Miriam Cordova

Last week Duncan Hunter, Republican US Representative for California’s 50th District (including central and northeastern portions of San Diego County), plead guilty to one federal charge of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds.

This charge was only one of the 60 filed against him after he stole $250,000 from his own re-election campaign. Since entering the plea, he has shown no signs of stepping down from his seat in the House of Representatives voluntarily. His plea could carry a maximum of five years in prison, but he is expected to only serve little over a year; he is due to be sentenced in March 2020.

Hunter and his wife Margaret spent the money on frivolous purchases like video games, airfare for their pet rabbit, their daughter’s extravagant birthday party, and numerous vacations including one to Italy costing $14,000. He initially attempted to blame the theft on his wife and even on his son, but later cited his children as the “three reasons” he avoided trial and took a guilty plea.

Duncan (right) and Margaret Hunter (center) with former Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner (left)

Campaign finance reports also reveal that Hunter used the campaign funds to indulge private trips with five different women who were not his wife, including one who reportedly worked in his office. In June his wife pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and agreed to testify against him.

Prior to his wife’s guilty plea, Hunter characterized the investigation as a “witch hunt” and “fake news,” playing on the hysteria espoused by US President Donald Trump. Hunter was one of the first in Congress to support Trump when he announced his campaign for President.

The Federal Election Commission first began looking into Hunter’s campaign finances in early 2016. His campaign committee’s 2019 funding source report shows that the majority of donations to his campaign were small contributions under $200, and mainly from retirees.

Hunter was elected to his current congressional seat, one that his father previously held, in 2008. His campaign hinged largely on his time with the Marine Corps in the imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In May of this year, he defended war criminal Edward Gallagher by claiming that he, too, “killed probably hundreds of civilians,” and had posed for pictures with the bodies of those he killed.

Hunter, as a literal soldier and political servant of US imperialism, makes his career out of managing the exploitation of others. Like all bourgeois politicians, lying and stealing for personal gain is common practice. Politicians such as Hunter sell the masses on false promises of change and prosperity, while using their tax money and donations as a personal piggy bank.

All US politicians are corrupt in some way or another, whether it is misusing funds for personal gain or promoting the will of the ruling class over the needs of the poor and oppressed. Hunter’s conviction is being framed by the state as an exception in order to maintain the appearance of legitimacy, when in reality it is the rule of US imperialism.