Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
KPBS Midday Edition

Rep. Duncan Hunter Responds To Allegations Of Campaign Corruption

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, speak with reporters in Point Loma after a fishing trip for wounded veterans, Aug. 22, 2018.
Matt Hoffman/KPBS
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, speak with reporters in Point Loma after a fishing trip for wounded veterans, Aug. 22, 2018.
Rep. Duncan Hunter Responds To Allegations Of Campaign Corruption
Rep. Duncan Hunter Responds To Allegations Of Campaign Corruption GUEST: Pat Finn, producer, KPBS Midday Edition

U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter is fighting back against allegations of campaign misspending. Along with his wife, Margaret, the congressman is accused of using more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and trying to cover it up.

A day after the indictment was announced, Hunter emphatically said, "Number one I’m going to have an election. I’m not resigning."

RELATED: Rep. Duncan Hunter, Wife, To Be Arraigned For Alleged Misuse Of Campaign Funds

Hunter spoke with reporters in Point Loma on Wednesday after going on a fishing trip with wounded veterans.

"There’s a trial — this means nothing," he said. "And the indictment is all they (U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California) have. They only have what you’re now seeing, that’s it. I’ve done nothing wrong. I say bring the trial now."

Hunter and his wife were both indicted Tuesday on charges of wire fraud, falsification of records and prohibited use of campaign contributions among others.

RELATED: Ammar Campa-Najjar’s Campaign Energized After Hunter Indictment

"This is the U.S. government — what I would call the deep state," Hunter said. "Or folks in the U.S. government who don’t care what the election does, they want to rig the election in their own way."

Hunter is running for reelection this year. He said the U.S. Department of Justice is conspiring to flip the 50th congressional district from Republican to Democratic.

"Yes? Are you joking? The DOJ is politically motivated," Hunter said. "They’re going to slam this thing in right now — they could have done this in the last two years."

Hunter’s wife was also named in the indictment. The congressman said before becoming elected, he did not oversee his personal finances and instead relied on her to handle them.

"It’s my responsibility," Hunter said. "It’s my account and didn’t have enough personal visibility with my finances as I should have."

Despite the allegations, Hunter remains confident he will be elected again in November.

"We’re going to court," Hunter said. "And I’m going to win in court and win my election and we’ll see where we are."

RELATED: Even Under Indictment, Congressman Duncan Hunter Is Favorite

Hunter has called the investigation into him by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California biased, as he said one of its prosecutors attended a Hilary Clinton event.

A spokeswoman for the Southern District of California said, "The United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California and the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. reviewed and rejected Mr. Hunter’s complaints. The Secret Service requested the prosecutors’ attendance and routinely asks prosecutors to attend events involving their protectees.”

Rep. Duncan Hunter Responds To Allegations Of Campaign Misspending
Rep. Duncan Hunter Responds To Allegations Of Campaign Corruption
After an indictment alleging Hunter and his wife used more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses the congressman said he would not resign and will fight the accusations.

Yesterday as Congressman Duncan Hunter returned from a fishing trip with wounded veterans he stopped to answer questions from PBS reporter Matt Hoffman and other media about the federal indictment. He and his wife face he forcefully denied any wrongdoing and made several comments that seemed to require some fact checking. Hey PBS producer Pat Finn is here to take us through Hunter's statements and Pat welcome. Well thanks Maureen. Pat you found three points in the congressman's comments worth looking into. Watts first well the first is how he responded to a question about whether or not he paid back his campaign finances who controlled his campaign finances. Here he is. This is this is good a good story for everybody. There's nothing illegal about being poor. I don't there's anything illegal about not having money in your bank account right. I did nothing new illegal on this. It's been two years again. I did. I paid it off before my last election. I did my own audit I self recorded and then I paid back what I what I owed the campaign based off an objective audit two years ago. So Pat is he correct that he paid it all back. Well he did pay back sixty five thousand dollars to his campaign. But since he's been charged with two hundred and fifty thousand dollars of violations in this indictment he can't possibly say he paid it all back and paying back the fund doesn't necessarily wipe out the alleged criminal act of using the funds illegally. No it doesn't at all. The second point involves a question Matt Hofman asked about whether his campaign finance practices have changed that cycle after 2016 there's no more accusations. Did you change the way you printed the record from the funeral you bought things. Yeah we had a we had a different campaign staff for 2016 that the Department of Justice right now with folks who is more is more political than politicians. And that's because that's the one that Trump appoints. No there's no there's no top 40 here and so on the other hand you know Trump appointees. Is that right at the current U.S. attorney for the Southern District which includes of course San Diego is Adam Braverman who was named to the acting U.S. attorney by Jeff Sessions the attorney general. Jeff Sessions and he was sworn in permanently in November. And so he is a Trump appointee and his name actually is on the last page the 47 page federal criminal indictment that the hunters are facing. What's the next point the congressman brought up several times that the acting U.S. attorney at the time Alana Robinson and another prosecutor attended a Hillary Clinton fundraiser so here he is on that. The acting U.S. attorney was just flat out Robinson who attended the Hillary Clinton fundraiser for free on a workday as a U.S. attorney as the acting U.S. attorney. That started my investigation and Emily Allen who is a prosecutor was at the same fundraiser and there she is truly the U.S. attorney's excuse for being at the Hillary Clinton fundraiser was to provide security for the candidate. They were getting pictures with Hillary Clinton Kelly Thornton who is a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney in San Diego sent out a message yesterday which said among other things the Secret Service requested the prosecutor's attendance and routinely asked prosecutors to attend events involving their protest. And in addition you talked to Jason Ford The former assistant U.S. attorney yesterday about this very thing. And here's what he said. Often the case that when some someone prominent like a candidate Clinton or President Trump comes into town that the Secret Service will take members of the U.S. attorney's office just just to just to be there just to be observers. It doesn't mean that they're rubbing elbows with politicians or donating to politicians so to me that's a lot of smoke. I just don't know whether there's any any flame in there that was a fact check of statements made by Congressman Duncan Hunter when questioned by reporters on Wednesday. And I've been speaking with CBS producer Pat Finn. Pat thank you. Thank you Maureen.