SAN DIEGO — Federal prosecutors turned up the heat in their prosecution of Rep. Duncan Hunter, alleging in new court papers that he used campaign funds to pursue and pay for extramarital affairs with lobbyists and congressional aides, including one in his office.
The U.S. Department of Justice filed more than a dozen motions Monday, among them a description of evidence allegedly showing that shortly after taking office in 2009, Hunter, R-Alpine, started using campaign funds “to pursue these romances wholly unrelated to either his congressional campaigns or his official duties as a member of Congress.”
In one instance, Hunter is accused of spending $905 on a weekend hotel getaway and bar tab in Virginia Beach.
He’s also said to have paid for “dates” with a woman who worked in his office.
Hunter, who represents the 50th District, is accused of misusing $250,000 in campaign funds. He filed court papers Monday asking to have the case dismissed, alleging that two assistant U.S. attorneys investigating his case attended a presidential campaign event for Democrat Hillary Clinton, creating a conflict of interest.
Hunter’s motion argues that his case is being prosecuted for political reasons because in August 2015, assistant U.S. attorneys Alana Robinson and Emily W. Allen attended a Clinton campaign fundraiser at a La Jolla residence.
Hunter has repeatedly blasted the case against him as being politically motivated.
Monday’s filings by the U.S. Department of Justice, however, painted a broader picture of alleged misuse of campaign funds by Hunter. Prosecutors claim he repeatedly used campaign credit cards or sought reimbursement for expenses that included resort hotel rooms, airfare, a skiing trip and Uber rides to and from the homes of five women with whom he had “intimate relationships,” according to court records.
Prosecutors offered Hunter a deal that would have avoided disclosure of the alleged affairs, but he declined it, according to the filings.
“This evidence is necessary to establish the personal nature of the expenditures to demonstrate Hunter’s knowledge and intent to break the law, and to establish his motive to embezzle from his campaign,” prosecutors wrote in one of the filings.
Hunter’s trial is scheduled to begin in September. Earlier this month, his wife Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. She faces up to five years in federal custody and a fine of up to $250,000 when she is sentenced Sept. 16.
Hunter was reelected in November despite the much-publicized indictment. He was first elected to Congress in 2008, when he won the seat his father held for 14 terms.