Who’s the biggest grifter in Congress? For your consideration: Republican congressman and vape enthusiast Duncan Hunter, who, along with his wife and “campaign manager” Margaret, were charged on Tuesday by federal prosecutors on numerous counts, all related to their stealing $250,000 from Duncan’s campaign funds to pay for their lavish lifestyle, from trips to Italy to tequila shots to plane tickets for their family’s pet rabbit (!!!).
As numerous outlets have reported, the Hunters have been under investigation by the Department of Justice for more than a year, and the details in the indictment are eye-popping for the sheer audacity with which they—allegedly—used his campaign as their personal bank account.
According to the 47-page filing, the Hunters were constantly broke, spending “substantially more than they earned” and overdrawing their bank account more than 1,100 times from 2010 to 2017, resulting in a staggering $37,761 in overdraft fees. They routinely maxed out their credit cards and were hounded by a variety of creditors as well as their children’s school and their family dentist to pay their outstanding debts.
The Hunters’ scam started when Duncan installed Margaret as his paid campaign manager, over the objections of other staff, because they “need[ed] the extra money” from her salary. Margaret, who married Duncan in 1998, served as a campaign consultant for her husband’s numerous congressional runs, and was paid $116,000 between 2010 and 2017. She also had access to campaign debit and credit cards. All of this “despite the protests” of his campaign treasurer, according to the indictment.
In case you’re curious to see how they spent their misbegotten $250,000, here’s an incomplete list, all of which is detailed in the indictment:
- A family vacation to Italy in November 2015;
- A family vacation to Hawaii in April 2015;
- A family vacation to Las Vegas and, curiously, Boise in July 2015;
- A couples’ vacation to Las Vegas in August 2011;
- More vacations to Lake Tahoe, Pittsburgh, London, and Washington, DC;
- Lavish meals at restaurants like the Capital Grille and Spago;
- Airline tickets and hotel rooms for their family, their friends, and even their pet rabbit;
- Tickets to the play How the Grinch Stole Christmas;
- Chewing tobacco;
- An iMac computer;
- Pittsburgh Steelers tickets;
- A Nikon CoolPix digital camera;
- Minnie Mouse headbands;
- A three-piece luggage set;
- A gaming keyboard and mouse; and
- 30 shots of tequila.
You can read the indictment, which documents their shady ways in mind-numbing detail, here.
The Hunters, who have been charged with wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations, and conspiracy, will be arraigned in federal court on Thursday morning. Duncan for his part has maintained his innocence, and, through a spokesperson, told CNN that he believes the charges against him and his wife are “purely politically motivated.”
And here is Hunter on how the federal government must learn to rein in spending and keep to a budget, in case you were curious: “Government does not have a revenue problem—it has a spending problem,” he writes on his website. “Federal spending is out-of-control and must be reduced so the government can live within its means.”