Breaking up, in the end, doesn’t seem to have been that hard to do for the estranged campaign finance law violators and married couple, Duncan and Margaret Hunter.
It was like “The War of the Roses” with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner meets Shonda Rhimes “Scandal.”
Margaret Hunter filed for divorce on Nov. 20 in San Diego Superior Court, according to online records.
Hunter in the filing that she was ending their marriage of 22 years because of “irreconcilable differences,” and requested joint legal custody of their 17- and 14-year-old daughters, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Their oldest son is an adult.
The filing comes just over a year since the couple pleaded guilty to misappropriating more than $150,000 of Duncan Hunter’s campaign funds for personal expenditures, such as lavish holidays and hefty bar taps. Duncan was also accused of using the funds on extramarital affairs.
Margaret Hunter had faced a maximum possible sentence of five years in jail. But prosecutors said her cooperation and agreement to testify against him was critical in obtaining the congressman’s conviction without going to trial.
She was sentenced in August to eight months of home confinement.
Margaret Hunter had served as campaign manager for her husband, who represented a district east of San Diego that includes parts of Riverside County. He suggested at one point that she was to blame for any financial problems. Prosecutors said the couple were both in on the scheme.
Duncan Hunter was sentenced to an 11-month prison term, but the start was delayed until January because of the coronavirus pandemic. Hunter resigned from his seat in January 2019.
In November, former Rep. Darrell Issa, who represented a coastal district in neighboring Orange County for 18 years, was elected to his vacant seat.
Duncan Hunter has been living with his mother and father, Former Rep. Duncan Lee Hunter, in Alpine, since the couple separated in August 2019. Margaret and their daughters, meanwhile have been staying in La Mesa.
The couple were indicted in federal court in August 2018 for allegedly using more than $250,000 of Duncan’s campaign funds for a variety of personal purchases, including trips to Italy, hefty bar tabs, and airplane tickets for the family’s pet rabbit.
Margaret was Duncan’s campaign manager at the time of the fraudulent spending, which occurred between 2010 and 2016.
n court documents, prosecutors suggested the congressman spent the money on extramarital affairs, blowing vast sums of money on weekend getaways and outings with at least five women – including three lobbyists, a staff member, and a congressional aid.
Reportedly broke and debt-saddled, according to The Daily Mail tabloid, he also cavalierly spent campaign money on everything from $462 in tequila shots to small things, such as a tin of chewing tobacco, and a copy of the book, ‘Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid,’ according to prosecutors.
In one text exchange shared as part of the proceedings, the couple discussed racking up a $600 minibar tab at ‘Caesars’, in Las Vegas.
‘The campaign card got declined for a $100 purchase,’ Duncan wrote in July 2015.
‘Short and fun in front?’ replied Margaret. ‘Hey we racked up $600 minibar and various beg and more charges at Caesars…’
‘Believe it,’ Duncan responded. ‘Breakfast was over $200.’
Duncan told a reporter shortly after the indictment that he had given his wife power of attorney when he was deployed to Iraq with the U.S. Marine Corps in 2003, and insisted she had been in control of his finances after that.
‘She was also the campaign manager,’ he said at the time. ‘So whatever she did, that will be looked at, too, I’m sure. But I didn’t do it.’
Both initially pleaded not guilty and then separately changed their pleas last year, admitting to one felony count of conspiring to illegally convert $150,000 of campaign money to personal use.
Margaret cooperated with prosecutors during their investigation, who later recommended in a plea agreement that she get a far lighter sentence than the five year maximum for the single count she admitted.
Margaret detailed how she and her husband knowingly used the campaign’s credit card for six years to bankroll trips to Italy, Las Vegas and Disneyland.
She said other expenses charged on the card included $500 in airline travel expenses for their pet bunny, Eggburt; and $351 for a family lunch in connection with a child’s Irish dance competition.
They tried to conceal the illegal spending in federal campaign finance reports, she said.
Wonkette details more of the Hunter campaign dollar grab dash
Why, you can see the BIASSSS right there in the original 60-count indictment. Who but a Deep Stater could fail to see the inherent logic in charging Uber rides to and from the homes of Hunter’s many ladyfriends to the campaign credit card? Don’t know how you do it, your Honor, but in San Diego they call that extramarital bonezoning a “legislative act,” if you know what I mean.
Ditto for the $1,008 weekend in Tahoe he charged to the campaign. Because, after all, his girlfriend at the time was a lobbyist! In fact, as the San Diego Union Tribune noted, “three of the women were noted to be lobbyists and two others were reported to be congressional staffers.” So that’s all official congressional horndogging bidniss, protected by the speech or debate clause of the Constitution of the US!
As for the 29 trips to Costco on which Hunter and his actual wife, Margaret Hunter, charged $11,375.46-worth of groceries and personal items to the campaign card, well, at least some of it could have been for charity, right? Okay, yes, Margaret Hunter was lying when she told the campaign treasurer that a January 11, 2012, trip was to purchase “gift basket items for basket donation – Temecula chamber gala auction.” But, like, it could have been true if they had actually donated their milk and toilet paper to the gala.
Same for the $87.50 they charged on July 18, 2015, for movie tickets that Mrs. Hunter described as “gift ticks towards a local league football fundraiser.” She could have meant to donate those tickets and just accidentally taken the kids instead. You can’t rule it out!
And in retrospect, it was probably an error to use the campaign card for $229.44 at Disneyland, $253.62 at Sea World (it was an “educational tour”), $6,150 for tuition and school lunches, $700 at the dentist’s office, and $99.53 for a cut and color at the Regis Hair Salon (AKA “Gift Basket Items”).Among many, many others. But the Hunters reimbursed the campaign account once the feds came knocking, so, no harm, no foul, right?
Who among us hasn’t let our kid use the wrong credit card for $119 of purchases on the Steam video game platform, then reported the charges as fraudulent when we got caught? Isn’t that really a family matter, best handled outside the courts?
And can you really blame Duncan Hunter for the US Navy’s intransigence? He really did try to book a tour of the naval facility near Naples, which would have magically transformed the entire $14,261.33 charge for a family trip to Italy into a campaign expense. Should Duncan Hunter be penalized because the Navy couldn’t accommodate his schedule? How is that even fair!
Plus, that time when he claimed a mileage reimbursement for a “468-mile trip to Virginia Beach with Individual 14, Congressman A, and Congressman A’s date” despite the fact that they didn’t take Hunter’s car was just an accounting screwup. Could happen to anybody!
In short, this whole thing was a stitch up. A Democrat hoax. A sham! That’s why Hunter pleaded guilty back in December, because none of the charges were actually true.
It’s a sad day, folks. A very, very sad day.