Indicted lawmaker blames wife for finances

Rep. Duncan Hunter shifted blame for alleged campaign fund abuses onto his wife, Margaret, during an interview with Fox News.

Posted: Aug 25, 2018 7:59 AM
Updated: Aug 25, 2018 7:59 AM

Indicted California Congressman Duncan Hunter (R) offered a glimpse into his legal strategy in an interview with Fox News on Thursday night: Blame his wife for the whole thing.

"She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did that'll be looked at too, I'm sure," Hunter said of his wife, Margaret. "But I didn't do it. I didn't spend any money illegally."

Ooomph.

The turn to pushing his wife directly under the bus is a change even from 24 hours earlier when Hunter insisted that the 47-page indictment detailing 200 separate instances of the misuse of campaign funds for personal use was nothing more than the "Democrats' arm of law enforcement" (aka the Justice Department) organizing a "witch hunt" (his words) against him just like they did with President Donald Trump.

This is what panic looks like when facing down an onrushing federal prosecution that could lead to significant jail time. You'll say or do anything to lessen your legal jeopardy -- up to and including insisting that your wife did it all and you tried to tell her no but she wouldn't listen.

There was some inkling that things were headed this way when Hunter and his wife made their first appearance on the charges in a San Diego courtoom on Thursday. CNN's Maeve Reston wrote of the scene:

"The congressman entered the courtroom with his lawyers, but not his wife, around 9:45 a.m. PT in a navy blue suit. Margaret Hunter arrived at court separately with her legal team and entered through a side door. Duncan Hunter and Margaret Hunter sat four seats apart in the courtroom after she entered."

Trouble in paradise!

Hunter's new strategy of putting all the blame on his wife has a major hole in it, however. And that hole is this: He was repeatedly warned about her misuse of the campaign credit card and not only refused to take it from her but also kept her in a job running his campaign.

It's all right there on pages 8 and 9 of the charging document:

  • "Duncan Hunter facilitated the theft of campaign funds by directing his Treasurer to obtain a Campaign credit card for Margaret at a time when she had no official role with the Campaign and received no official salary, knowing that she would spend campaign funds for the Hunters' personal benefit."
  • "Duncan Hunter installed Margaret Hunter as his paid Campaign Manager despite the protests of his Treasurer and with full knowledge of her long history of misuse of campaign funds, in part because as they discussed the Hunters 'need[ed] the extra money' that would come from her salary."
  • "Duncan Hunter facilitated the theft of campaign funds by ignoring his campaign staff's multiple warnings about Margaret's improper use of campaign funds, accusing campaign staff of disloyalty by 'trying to create some kind of paper trail on me' when they raised concerns about improper spending, and continually refusing to remove her access to campaign funds."

What's clear in the indictment is that Hunter was repeatedly told about his wife's misuse of campaign funds -- and did nothing (or next to nothing) about it. And, it's not as though the money she was spending was solely for her benefit. Duncan Hunter played a lot of golf, allegedly, using campaign cash. He went on plenty of family vacations -- including one to Italy.

The portrait of the Hunters created in the indictment is not of a rogue wife, refusing to heed her husband's call to change her ways. It's of a couple conspiring to live massively above their means and working very hard to cover their tracks.

Duncan Hunter appears to be trying to paint a very different picture. The problem for him is that the hundreds -- literally -- of instances of alleged law-breaking in the indictment run directly counter to the story he is selling.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 319115

Reported Deaths: 7353
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22246264
Hinds20612421
Harrison18342316
Rankin13855282
Jackson13666248
Madison10213224
Lee10050176
Jones8452167
Forrest7810153
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Tate342386
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Scott319274
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Holmes190374
Clay187454
Stone187233
Tallahatchie179941
Clarke178980
Calhoun173732
Yalobusha167740
Smith164034
Walthall135147
Greene131633
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite125942
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica107927
Jefferson Davis107633
Claiborne102930
Benton102225
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin84923
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50817
Issaquena1696
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547323

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson808021563
Mobile41925826
Madison35600522
Tuscaloosa26136458
Shelby25554254
Montgomery25067610
Baldwin21774313
Lee16234175
Calhoun14692325
Morgan14614285
Etowah14132361
Marshall12443230
Houston10748287
Elmore10295212
Limestone10180157
St. Clair10146250
Cullman9921200
Lauderdale9582248
DeKalb8955189
Talladega8441184
Walker7318279
Autauga7215113
Blount6925139
Jackson6900113
Colbert6394139
Coffee5616126
Dale4928114
Russell454441
Chilton4461116
Franklin430683
Covington4263122
Tallapoosa4117154
Escambia400280
Chambers3715123
Dallas3604156
Clarke352861
Marion3231106
Pike313978
Lawrence3121100
Winston283372
Bibb267364
Geneva256981
Marengo250565
Pickens236562
Barbour234559
Hale226578
Butler223371
Fayette217162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph186844
Monroe179141
Washington170339
Macon163051
Clay159559
Crenshaw155057
Cleburne152543
Lamar145837
Lowndes141953
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh112930
Coosa111129
Perry108726
Sumter105732
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