Hunter campaign finance gift keeps giving (Updated: Justice Department puts Hunter under criminal investigation)


UPDATED NOON THURSDAY:  “Rep. Duncan Hunter is under criminal investigation by the Justice Department over alleged campaign finance violations,” the House Ethics Committee announced Thursday.

The Justice Department has now asked the Ethics Committee to hold off on any action against Hunter because of its own criminal probe into the lawmaker, according to a statement from Reps. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), the chairwoman and ranking member of the panel.

“The Department of Justice has asked the Committee to defer consideration of this matter and the Committee, following precedent, unanimously voted on March 22, 2017, to defer consideration of this matter at this time,” the statement said.

The full committee statement is shown at the bottom of the story.

Hunter 2018 re-election campaign lists questionable expenditures…

Believe it or not, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, (R-50th District) not only has filed for re-election in 2018, but also apparently has been spending campaign funds the way he spent them in the past, on personal expenses.

It’s the campaign finance gift that keeps on giving.

Bluster, alternative facts, fuzzy logic and questionable financial techniques aside, Hunter has something else in common with his presidential idol Donald Trump: They both filed for re-election in the week following the 2016 election. Hunter filed his Statement of Candidacy on Nov. 15, 2016.

You can see the FEC filing here: Hunter for Congress — 2018.

What’s more, Hunter spent $58,062 of his $771,345 campaign fund in the final six weeks of last year, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings. Of that, $57,562 was spent for “operating expenses.”

It’s unknown how much more money he has spent from campaign funds this year as that report has yet to be filed. The campaign account had $720,060 cash in hand as of Dec. 31, 2016. Hunter spent $869,330 in the 2015-2016 election cycle.

FEC-listed spending raises serious questions since Hunter already has admitted to spending over $62,000 of campaign funds for personal expenses, a matter under investigation by the House Committee on Ethics following a referral by the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.

The House ethics committee was scheduled to consider Hunter’s situation behind closed doors at its Wednesday, March 22 meeting — the committee’s first session during the 115th Congress.

The committee issued a statement Thursday saying it would hold off on charging Hunter following a request by the Justice Department to do so ending its own criminal investigation of Hunter.

A miscellaneous document filed with the FEC on Nov. 16, 2016, signed by Chis Marton, treasurer of the Duncan D. Hunter for Congress Committee detailed “repayment of personal expenditures.” It itemized the $48,650.98 personal repayment of  “items inadvertently charged on the campaign card.”

That filing hammers home the similarity between admitted wrongdoing then and the latest charges now. That full listing is displayed at the end of the story.

It seems a bit far-fetched that one week following the Nov. 8 general election, with previous campaign spending discrepancies barely in the rear-view mirror, Hunter would be running for 2018 and spending money on seemingly personal expenses.

But that’s the way it is for the 5-term congressman who immediately succeeded his father Duncan L. Hunter in the same congressional districts, California’s 50th and 52nd. Duncan L. Hunter was a 13-term congressman who was chairman of the House Armed Service Committee and even briefly ran for President in 2008.

Duncan L. Hunter, the elder’s tale, briefly

Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe) (C) speaks as he is flanked by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) (L) and Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) during the welcoming ceremony of the U.S. Navy’s fastest large ship, the Sea Fighter, in San Diego, California, August 1, 2005/File

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonpartisan citizens’ watchdog group, listed the senior Hunter as one of the most corrupt members of Congress in 2007, detailing 23 pages of purported corruption.

“Rep. Hunter’s ethical issues stem from his connection to a number of people at the center of the largest military corruption scandal of the decade — connections that have been investigated by the FBI — and his earmarks for projects that benefit his defense industry political donors, but that the military does not want,” CREW said.

That “military corruption scandal” referred to the elder Hunter’s involvement as “mentor” to Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe) who was convicted of taking bribes along with other key players in the scandal including Brent Wilkes who served 11 months in federal custody for bribing Cunningham, himself a Republican representing — ta-da — California’s 50th Congressional District.

Hunter, the elder, also took money from Wilkes, and Mitchell Wade, who pleaded guilty to giving Cunningham $1 million in bribes in exchange for millions more in defense contracts. However, Hunter, the elder, skated on a technicality because he didn’t use the money personally, instead giving it to the injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

Hunter’s last hurrah was a 2008 presidential campaign that went nowhere fast. He dropped out of the presidential primaries after receiving no more than low single digit percentages in any state.  He had among the highest absentee rates in Congress that year, due largely to time spent on the campaign trail.

Back to Duncan D. Hunter, the junior

Duncan Hunter, left, on stage being introduced at what turned out to be a lively, and memorable, town hall event, March 11, 2017 at Ramona MainStage.

Examining the current Hunter campaign’s 33 itemized expenditures raises even more questions. They can be found here. The fact that they appear to be the exact same kind of expenditures as those personal expenses previously made illegally with campaign funds creates a questionable ethics exacta.

Purposed as “travel,” Renaissance Hotel & Resort at 1127 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington D.C. was paid $2,744 on Nov. 21, 2016 and $2,744 on Nov. 23, 2016. The Congressional Club received $450 on Dec. 12, 2016 for membership. The US Capitol Gift Shop got $434 on Dec. 1, 2016 for “donor acknowledgments.”

First Bankcard was paid $9,495 on Dec. 12, 2016 and $2,855 on Dec. 5, 2016 with a note saying “See Below.” It wasn’t clear what that referenced.

Berke Farah LLP was paid $18,739 on Dec. 19, 2016 for legal services. This Washington D.C. law firm is believed to be defending Hunter now against criminal charges for misspending campaign funds announced by the Justice Department on Thursday, March 23.

The Gula Graham Group was paid $9,495 on Dec. 12, 2016 for fundraising consulting. Margaret Hunter, Duncan Hunter’s wife, was paid $3,000 on Nov. 29, 2016 for campaign consulting.

In the 2015-2016 election cycle, according to Open Secrets, Margaret Hunter ranked second in all vendor receipts with $65,264 made in 34 payments. Hunter said at his March 11 town hall she no longer was being paid.

Top vendor in 2015-2016 was Gula Graham Group with $203,217 in 27 payments. The Washington D.C. firm bills itself as “the premier fundraising firm where success lies within strong personal relationships inside and outside the beltway.”

Back to Hunter’s 2018 campaign spending during the last six weeks of 2016, Election CFO LLC of Alexandria, received $3,297 on Dec. 8, 2016 for “compliance consulting.”

Alpine Tobacco Company, a well-known Hunter party location, received  $349 on Nov. 30, 2016 and $55 on Nov. 21, 2016. Fry’s Electronics got $782 on Nov. 29, 2016 for computer hardware. Apple received $1,277 on Nov. 21, 2016 for computer/phone hardware.

Other payments included $1,000 for a San Diego County Federation of Republican Women event sponsorship, $287 for food-beverages at Al Pancho’s Mexican Restaurant of Alpine on Nov. 29, 2016, $289 for rent at El Cajon A-1 Self-Storage, and small outlays to Ady Uber Technologies for travel, CMDI for check processing and AT&T.

Most of those expenses look suspiciously personal, especially considering they were made in the weeks immediately following an election with the next election two years away. No further explanation of those expenses have been made.

Three voided checks were reported. Apparently Trump supporting Hunter originally gave Mike Huckabee for president $2,000 that was voided on Dec. 30, 2016. Also voided on that date was a $2,854 check to Orfila Vineyards and $1,000 for Paul Cook for Congress. Cook (R-Yucca Valley) represents California’s 8th Congressional District.

Itemized receipts

Duncan Hunter under fire.

Contributors to Hunter’s 2018 campaign fund in December followed his pattern of taking money from companies or individuals with direct ties to the House Armed Services Committee on which he serves.

Elbit Systems of America, a Fort Worth-based border security company gave Hunter’s next campaign $1,500 on Dec. 30, 2016. Virginia-based Dyncorp International, one of the nation’s leading private military contractors contributed $1,000 on Dec. 30, 2016.

DLA Piper LLP global law firm gave $1,500 on Dec. 30, 2016. CGI Technologies and Solutions “among the leading independent information technology and business process services firms in the world” gave $1,000 on Dec. 30, 2016.

Military Move PAC, classified by Open Secrets as defense-related services,  gave $1,277.50 on Dec. 22, 2016.

This was in keeping with Hunter’s campaign committee contribution profile. Open Secrets found his top five industry contributors in 2015-2016 included: Sea Transport, $86,900; Misc. Defense, $77,028; Defense Electronics, $59,250; Defense Aerospace, $58,500; Transportation Unions, $42,875.

Hunter’s top five contributors in 2015-2016 included: General Atomics, $30,250; Edison Chouest Offshore, $11,800; Cubic Corp., $11,000; Northrup Grumman, $11,000; Saltchuk Resources, $11,000.


Statement of the Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Ethics Regarding Representative Duncan Hunter

MAR 23, 2017

            Pursuant to Committee Rule 7(g), the Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Ethics (Committee) determined on March 23, 2017, to release the following statement:

On August 31, 2016, the Committee on Ethics received a referral from the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) regarding Representative Duncan Hunter. Pursuant to House Rule XI, clause 3(b)(8)(A) and Committee Rules 17A(b)(1)(A), 17A(c)(1) and 17A(j), the Chairman and Ranking Member jointly decided on December 15, 2016 to extend the Committee’s review of the matter.

The Department of Justice has asked the Committee to defer consideration of this matter and the Committee, following precedent, unanimously voted on March 22, 2017, to defer consideration of this matter at this time. Pursuant to Committee Rule 17A(h)(1), the Committee is making the OCE’s Report in this matter public. Under that rule, when the Committee votes to defer in this manner, it must release the Report, but not the Findings, along with a public statement announcing its deferral. At least annually, the Committee will make a public statement if it continues to defer taking action on the matter. The Committee notes that the mere fact of its decision to defer action on this matter, and any mandatory disclosure of that decision and the OCE’s Report, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred.


Now as far as the itemized repayment of campaign funds for personal expenses, here is the miscellaneous filing…

Carolina Mongeon

Senior Campaign Finance Analyst

Federal Election Commission

999 E Street, NW

Washington, DC 20463

Identification Number: C00433524

Reference: Duncan D. Hunter repayment of personal expenditures

Dear Ms. Mongeon,

Duncan D. Hunter for Congress has undergone an independent financial review of all expenditures for the 2015-2016 cycle and identified unauthorized expenditures that have been deemed personal in nature. In addition, out of an abundance of caution, the campaign has deemed any expense without adequate support as necessary for reimbursement. As a result, Congressman Hunter has personally paid the campaign $48,650.98 for these items inadvertently charged on the campaign card. The campaign has also implemented structural changes to ensure any errors will not be repeated.

Under advice from the Reports Analysis Division, the Committee will report that payment on November 4, 2016 as a Line 15 Other Receipt.

The charges that comprise that repayment are as follows:

All 2015-2016 Cox Communications totaling $1174.96

10/14/2015 San Diego Gas & Electric totaling $1268.00

8/10/2015 Padre Municipal Water District totaling $300.00

All 2015-2016 Sea World totaling $961.46

9/28/2015 Star Trader totaling $229.44

9/28/2015 Royal Street Veranda totaling $58.31

All 2015-2016 Albertsons totaling $4223.34

All 2015-2016 Vons totaling $850.65

All 2015-2016 Trader Joes totaling $603.94

8/20/2015 Educational Outfitters totaling 207.63

All 2015-2016 Costco totaling $6142.03

All 2015-2016 Target totaling $1302.93

All 2015-2016 Walmart totaling $2616.64

All 2015-2016 Walgreens totaling $129.21

All 2015-2016 Rite Aid totaling $670.24

6/29/2015 CVS totaling $38.75

All 2015-2016 Dick’s Sporting Goods totaling $434.49

7/6/2015 The North Face totaling $205.62

8/6/2015 Sports Authority totaling $144.57

All 2015 FEIS Productions totaling $230.00

All 2015-2016 7-Eleven totaling $35.16

7/7/2015 Bishop Gas & Mini Mart $45.09

All 2015-2016 Chevron totaling $2,866.93

9/2/2015 Circle K totaling $57.30

All 2015-2016 Exxon totaling $519.26

All 2015 Firenze S.M.N. Self Service totaling $320.24

7/7/2015 Mill City Trv Cntr totaling $46.82

7/23/2015 Rubio’s totaling $38.35

All 2015-2016 Shell Oil Co totaling $2605.01

3/23/2015 USA Gasoline totaling $44.30

All 2015 Nordstrom totaling $414.47

All 2015 Macy’s totaling $486.97

12/21/2015 Athleisure Inc. totaling $85.32

11/10/2015 Abercrombie & Fitch totaling $92.88

All 2015-2016 Nail Spa Plus totaling $111.00

8/18/2015 Regis totaling $99.53

5/8/2015 Icing totaling $77.85

11/30/2015 H&M totaling $134.61

All 2015-2016 Home Depot totaling $1031.89

All 2016 Arizona Grand Resort totaling $2891.75

7/7/2015 The Grove Hotel totaling $1083.63

7/6/2015 Epleys Boise River Rental totaling $73.14

3/15/2016 Hotel Del Toy Castle totaling $43.63

12/15/2015 Hotel del Recreation totaling $100.00

All 2015 Expedia totaling $1920.11

11/27/2015 Roma Termini totaling $248.03

11/30/2015 Casa Italo Napoli Centrale totaling $289.38

11/25/2015 Ristorante Il Giubileo totaling $213.50

11/27/2015 Hotel L’Ancora totaling $683.29

11/27/2015 Il Ritrovo Restaurant totaling $294.53

11/27/2015 Starhotels Michelangelo totaling $161.65

11/27/2015 Trattoria Da Cumpa Cosimo totaling $138.25

11/27/2015 Gioielleria Manetti totaling $216.76

11/03/2015 United Airlines totaling $15.96

11/04/2015 United Airlines totaling $246.00

11/04/2015 United Airlines totaling $105.30

11/04/2015 United Airlines totaling $105.30

11/04/2015 United Airlines totaling $403.20

11/04/2015 United Airlines totaling $105.30

11/04/2015 United Airlines totaling $403.20

11/04/2015 United Airlines totaling $403.20

11/04/2015 United Airlines totaling $105.30

11/04/2015 United Airlines totaling $1399.20

11/04/2015 United Airlines totaling $403.20

11/17/2015 United Airlines totaling $11.97

11/23/2015 United Airlines totaling $134.00

11/23/2015 United Airlines totaling $7.99

11/23/2015 United Airlines totaling $127.00

11/23/2015 United Airlines totaling $9.99

11/23/2015 United Airlines totaling $134.00

11/23/2015 United Airlines totaling $134.00

11/23/2015 United Airlines totaling $7.99

11/23/2015 United Airlines totaling $6.99

11/30/2015 United Airlines totaling $16.99

11/30/2015 United Airlines totaling $16.99

11/30/2015 United Airlines totaling $185.10

11/30/2015 United Airlines totaling $185.10

11/30/2015 United Airlines totaling $185.10

11/30/2015 United Airlines totaling $185.10

1/30/2015 United Airlines totaling $413.00

2/26/2015 United Airlines totaling $125.00

11/12/2015 United Airlines totaling $125.00

11/12/2015 United Airlines totaling $125.00

7/11/2014 United Airlines totaling $125.00

7/11/2014 United Airlines totaling $125.00

All 2015 Jeff Gray DDS totaling $1400.00

All 2015 Barnes & Noble totaling $525.36

All 2015-2016 Ki’s Restaurant totaling $1372.75

Please let us know if you have any questions.


Chris Marston


Duncan D. Hunter for Congress Committee

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