New subpoena in criminal investigation of GOP rep threatens another vulnerable Republican


Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter faces ongoing criminal investigation into illegal campaign spending.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, Republican from southern California, is embroiled in an ongoing criminal investigation into possible illegal campaign spending.

While there are strict laws forbidding the use of campaign funds to personally enrich a candidate or his family, Hunter has several questionable expenditures over the past several years.

"Hunter has denied intentional wrongdoing but has reimbursed his campaign for more than $60,000 of purchases including video games, oral surgery, groceries, garage door repair, family vacations, surfing equipment, dance recital trips, school lunches, school tuition and school uniforms," according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, which first raised questions about Hunter's spending.

In the latest action, a federal grand jury has issued a subpoena to a business in Hunter's congressional district where Hunter spent thousands of dollars in 2012 and 2014, requiring a witness to testify before the grand jury.

According to the Union-Tribune:

The subpoena orders the business to “provide any and all documents, to include itemized and signed receipts, event contracts, reservation/booking details, name(s) of guest(s) ... guest folios, photographs, social media postings and any form of communication associated with” six specific transactions in 2012.

Two of the transactions were attributed to Hunter, another two to his wife and former campaign manager, Margaret, and two to Bruce Young, the campaign’s treasurer in 2012. Investigators indicated that the business should produce records relating to those transactions dating back to Jan. 1, 2009.

Grand jury proceedings are secret, but if the jury finds sufficient evidence of wrongdoing, it can recommend criminal charges.

While Hunter has denied such charges, he has also sought to undermine the independent Office of Congressional Ethics, and made wild accusations against the agency investigating him.

Hunter was a vocal champion of a failed Republican effort to weaken the office.

"Hunter didn't write the rule change, but he supported it after spending much of this past year under investigation by the office for campaign expenditures for transport for a family pet rabbit, money he said was an oversight and that he quickly repaid but felt the office unfairly pursued," the Washington Post reported.

Equally worrisome, Hunter has followed the dangerous precedent of Donald Trump in questioning the integrity of the Department of Justice and FBI.

"I think that the Department of Justice is somewhat biased. There are individuals there, they like to make big cases, they like to do big things, it makes a name for them. I think that the longer they drag this out, the worse it is for me, and they know that," Hunter said in January 2018.

Hunter provided no proof for his outlandish claim that career public servants at the the DOJ are biased.

Hunter has also criticized the DOJ's investigation into the Trump campaign's potential collusion with Russian foreign agents during the 2016 campaign, going so far as to call it "treasonousness at some points."

That investigation has resulted in two guilty pleas, as well as the federal indictment and arrest of two close associates of Trump, including his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.

Despite Hunter's unsubstantiated claims of bias, and his efforts to weaken the ethics rules that govern his conduct,  the investigation into his alleged misdeeds continues unabated.

Two other California Republicans (Reps. Ed Royce and Darrell Issa) have already announced that they will not run for re-election in 2018.

While California recently passed a law preventing some felons from running for state office, Hunter is likely aware that convicted felons are constitutionally permitted to run for the House of Representatives, if they so choose.

The filing deadline in California is March 9.