Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, have been indicted for the misuse of campaign contributions and falsifying records. According to reports, the couple used campaign money to fund personal expenses like family vacations, movie tickets, groceries, and home utilities.
As Fox News reports, the Hunters were accused of mishandling $250,000.
The congressman has been stripped of his committee assignments and Speaker Paul Ryan has called the charges “deeply serious.”
Among the allegations named in the 48-page indictment included instances between 2009 and 2016 when Hunter and his wife used campaign funds to pay for family vacations to Italy and Hawaii, school tuition, dental work, and even domestic and international travel for almost a dozen relatives, according to a press release from the Southern District of California’s U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The indictment also alleged that the pair spent “tens of thousands of dollars” on items ranging from movie tickets, fast food, golf outings, groceries and home utilities.
The Hunters repaid $60,000 of the misused funds in 2017 and “mischaracterized” other money on their Federal Election Commission filings, Fox News reports.
In one example, the Hunters spent campaign contributions for family dental work and filed the spent money as a charitable contribution to “Smile For Life.”
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said charges against the couple include conspiracy to commit offenses against the United States, wire fraud, and falsifying records.
As Fox News reports, the couple acted against counsel and were aware their actions were illegal:
Hunter, one of Trump’s earliest supporters in the presidential race, allegedly was aware of what he and his wife were doing and continued to spend campaign funds on personal expenses despite multiple warnings from his campaign treasurer about “questionable purchases.”
“According to the indictment, the Hunters knew that many of their desired purchases could be made only by using campaign funds, since they did not otherwise have sufficient personal funds to pay for their purchases,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
CNN similarly reports that the couple “knowingly conspired with each other”:
Federal prosecutors contend that the Hunters repeatedly misrepresented what their expenses were for — in one instance buying personal clothing at a golf course so that the purchase “could be falsely reported to the treasurer as ‘balls for the wounded warriors,'” the indictment says.
The indictment also charges that Duncan Hunter facilitated the “theft of campaign funds” by directing his treasurer to obtain a campaign credit card for his wife at a time when she had no formal role.
The couple were reportedly struggling in their personal finances and had overdrawn their personal accounts more than 1,100 times in a seven-year period. As CNN reports, the couple accumulated over $37,000 in “overdraft” and “insufficient funds” bank fees. Their inability to afford the purchased items raised suspicions from investigators that they were illicitly using the campaign funds.
“By virtue of these delinquencies — as well as notifications of outstanding debts and overdue payments from their children’s school, their family dentist, and other creditors — the Hunters knew that many of their desired purchases could only be made by using campaign funds,” the indictment from the U.S. Attorney’s office said.