Indicted last year along with her husband for misusing campaign funds, Margaret Hunter recently pleaded guilty in federal court to her and her husband using their campaign funds as their private bank account for years. In addition to using the campaign funds to pay for their children’s private school, Hunter and her husband also illegally spent the money on golf outings, a bachelor party, and trips to Disneyland, Italy, and Las Vegas.
Representing San Diego County, Duncan Hunter has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2009. His father, Duncan Lee Hunter, served in Congress from 1981 to 2009.
In August 2018, Rep. Hunter and his wife, Margaret Hunter, were indicted on charges that they converted more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for personal expenses and filed false campaign finance records with the Federal Election Commission. The purchases included family vacations to Italy, Hawaii, Phoenix, Arizona, and Boise, Idaho; school tuition; dental work; theater tickets; and domestic and international travel for almost a dozen relatives. The Hunters also spent tens of thousands of dollars on smaller purchases, including fast food, movie tickets, golf outings, video games, coffee, groceries, home utilities, and expensive meals.
According to Margaret Hunter’s recent plea agreement, Hunter and her husband knowingly began to illegally spend money from his campaign fund to pay for personal expenses in 2010. Despite the fact that the Hunters knew they were committing a crime, they continued to spend campaign funds on family trips to Disneyland, Italy, Las Vegas, Del Mar, Laguna Beach, etc.
In July 2014, the Hunters improperly used campaign funds to pay for a family trip to Washington, D.C., where they spent $399 for ziplining for Hunter and two of his children, and $250 in airline travel charges for the family’s pet rabbit, Eggburt. In November 2015, they spent more than $10,000 in campaign funds to a vacation to Italy and attempted to justify the impermissible use of these funds by setting up a one-day tour of a U.S. Navy facility in the country.
“I have accepted full responsibility for my conduct. I am deeply remorseful, and I apologize. I am saddened for the hurt I have caused my family and others,” Margaret Hunter’s attorneys Tom McNamara and Logan Smith said in a statement on her behalf.
“As Margaret’s case concludes, she should be left alone. I am the Congressman, this is my campaign and any further attention on this issue should be directed solely to me,” Rep. Duncan Hunter said in a statement on Thursday. Duncan initially blamed his wife shortly after they were indicted.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan set Ms. Hunter’s sentencing for September 16, 2019 at 9 a.m. The Hunters both remain free on bond. A motions hearing relating to defendant Duncan Hunter is scheduled for July 1, 2019, and his trial is scheduled to begin on September 10, 2019.