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Rep. Hunter Wants To Serve The Nation By Continuing To Represent 50th Congressional District

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill...

Photo by Associated Press

Above: Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, April 7, 2011.

Rep. Hunter Wants To Serve The Nation By Continuing To Represent 50th Congressional District


Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine


KPBS Midday Edition is interviewing candidates running to represent San Diego County residents in an effort to give voters the information they need to decide who to vote for in the June primary election.

Rep. Duncan Hunter is running for re-election in the 50th Congressional District.

The 50th District comprises much of San Diego’s East County from Fallbrook and Escondido to Lakeside and Jamul. It also stretches into Temecula in Riverside County.

Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter was an artillery officer in the Marine Corps and has represented the 50th District since 2009.

KPBS spoke to Hunter on Wednesday at the VFW in Alpine to discuss why he is running for re-election. Below is the transcript of a portion of that interview:

Reported by Katie Schoolov

Q: What made you decide to seek re-election?

A: I am still serving my nation and I'm doing it in a much different capacity than as a U.S. Marine, but I'm still serving and I still care about the same things that I cared about when I first ran. You still have border issues here in San Diego. I think we have a major border issue now with this caravan coming up north from Mexico. Border security and national security on the border is still a big issue like it was nine years ago when I ran the first time. Keeping defense here in San Diego and keeping those jobs that the defense industry brings and the security that the defense industry brings in San Diego, still working that. We just stopped Qualcomm from being bought by Broadcom, that was a good lick. Saved about 7,000 jobs here in San Diego. So all the things that I was working on, I'm still working on. It takes a long time. Congress moves slowly. The bureaucracy moves slowly. But it takes a while to really get stuff rolling and we've been able to accomplish quite a few things in the meantime. I think I've passed the most legislation out of any congressman in San Diego over the last nine years. In fact, if you add everything up I might have all of the legislation that the other members of Congress have passed combined I have passed in Congress.

Q: Congress has yet to pass a replacement for DACA. Would you support a bill that provided a path to citizenship for people brought to the United States illegally as children?

A: It depends. So, no pathway to citizenship. I think it would be OK for a pathway to legalization for everybody and then start working from there. But, right now they don't even have that. In fact, I was just in a parade in Lakeside this last weekend with two DACA kids. One was brought here when he was six months old. He doesn't know Venezuela at all, knows nothing about it whatsoever. Was born and raised here in the U.S., has no accent, and he's considered a DACA kid, he's now 16 or 17 years old. I think you have to look at it on a case-by-case basis. Why the parents were here, if the parents got in to the country legally or illegally, if they came seeking asylum or if they just got into the country just without anybody knowing about it. I think all those things have to be looked at.

Q: Congress hasn't approved funding for the wall. Why do you think that is and where do you think the funding should come from?

A: So, the questions about Congress that you're asking, they don't pertain to the House of Representatives really. So, the House has passed these things. It's the Senate. Because the Senate won't do it. And when you say Congress, realize there's a House of Representatives and there's the Senate. The Senate does nothing, period. They're slow. They don't like to get stuff done. I don't think the Senate wants to be criticized by doing anything so the easy way out for the Senate of the United States is to do nothing all the time, so as long as that's the case you're not going to have funding for anything. Your not going to have funding for the border wall when the Senate wants to do nothing. You're not going to have a DACA fix when the Senate and the Democrats in the Senate want to use DACA for political purposes. I mean, President Trump has given them DACA on a silver platter. I think he tripled the number of people that Obama was going to allow to stay in the U.S. through DACA. Trump tripled that and the Democrats in the Senate still said no. So, I don't know what you do. We don't have enough Republicans in the Senate to pass stuff and we just pray every day that the Senate will actually get to work and do their job and hopefully start passing some things.

Q: So last year you voted on the House bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but the bill eventually failed in the Senate. Would you be open to fixing the Affordable Care Act?

A: Yes. So, when it comes to not just fixing the Affordable Care Act, because its not, it's an unaffordable, unhinged act is what Obamacare is. The reality is, if you were to do things like be able to buy insurance across state lines. So, if I'm in California and California has got this super lobbyist system where only the health insurers that they like here in the state are able to sell me insurance, well if I say 'I don't like that, I want to buy insurance from a company in Kentucky that costs me $100 a month, can I do that?' No you can't, right now. That'd be a great change. That'd be one huge change if we make right now that would lower everybody's premiums overnight literally. You would lower your premiums overnight, if you could buy insurance across state lines, so I could buy insurance from anywhere. We don't care where your car insurance company is located at. GEICO is in Virginia. USAA is in Texas. Wawanesa is here in San Diego. I'm not sure where else everybody's car insurers are, but we don't care whether they're from the state that they're operating at, why do we care with healthcare? Because it's a giant, corporate monopoly by the insurers and the corporations. So, if you could buy insurance across state lines, that'd be one thing that can be done like that and it would lower people's premiums overnight, boom.

Q: Would you support creating additional regulations on gun ownership?

A: No.

Q: No, universal background checks?

A: Oh sure, I mean we do background checks now. So, universal background checks, good. Making sure people don't have mental illness or felonies, that would be good too. And we already check on those things, right. But, anything that makes sure that bad people or people that are mentally ill or violent or have been convicted that they can't buy a weapon and that those of us who have not been convicted of a crime or are not mentally ill, that we can. So, what you're saying there is for 99 percent of the American people, they should be able to keep and bear arms, carry concealed permits or concealed weapons and for the 1 percent that either are felons or mentally ill, then no.

Q: So, you've represented the district since 2008, what's your biggest accomplishment?

A: I think the tax cuts are probably generationally one of the biggest accomplishments, one of the things that we just did. I think my biggest accomplishments though are things that people rarely, if ever, hear about. We've probably saved a dozen Marines and soldiers and sailors that were getting ground under the bureaucracy of the U.S. military, that were being punished under the last administration for doing their jobs and/or killing the enemy in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and then being treated unfairly and getting drummed out of the military when they came home. Those are the things that I'm most proud of, those are the things that I think most about at night. I have a military guy, Staff Sgt. Martland who beat up a child molester that was on his base, so beat up a pedophile that was abusing a little boy on the U.S. base where you had special forces, under the Obama years, this is like six or seven years ago, the Obama military tried to kick Martland out of the Army for beating up a child rapist. The Department of Defense's line was that it's their culture, the Afghan culture. He was getting drummed out of the Army. So we not only stopped the Army from being stupid, we saved him and I had to make it law that you cannot abuse children on U.S. military bases. I had to make that a law because the Department of Defense was so stupid that they believe that pedophilia is OK in Afghanistan because that's a cultural issue, right, so its things like that that people don't hear about that I'm probably the most proud of.

Q: We’ve interviewed several of your challengers in the 50th District including El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, a fellow Republican. He said he believes you'll eventually be unable to continue as a congressman because of the ongoing federal investigation into your alleged personal use of campaign funds. What’s your reaction to that?

A: I don't have a reaction to that. It's been a year and a half since this thing started. I've heard nothing. I've had no involvement with the Department of Justice. We've been doing nothing actually, because we haven't been asked to do anything. So, I mean people run for office all of the time. People like higher power all the time and you'll see politicians saying stuff like that all of the time and that's fine, let them say it.

Q: Do you have anything to say to your voters who might be concerned about the way that you would spend money given the investigation?

A: No, because they can look at my nine years in office so far and every single way that I voted. You have a nine year record on how I vote on spending, the military, on any number of social issues and a myriad of every other kind of issue in the world. My debates for this election have been done over the last nine years. All of my stuff is on the internet, you can see every single vote and that's what people can look at if they want to see whether they think I can still do the job or not. We're still extremely effective, we're still passing more laws than anybody else in the San Diego area here. And we're going to keep carrying on, keep fighting for the people, keep fighting for border security, keep fighting for jobs here and a strong national security. The way that I do stuff, I don't poll. I don't try to take the temperature of my constituency. I am my own constituent. I live here in East County, I raise kids here, and I reflect, I think, the values and principles of my voters in this area, that's why I keep getting re-elected.

Q: Did you misuse campaign funds?

A: No.

Q: Were there mistakes made?

A: No. I did not misuse any campaign funds, but thank you for asking.

Hunter has repaid his campaign more than $60,000 for personal expenses. In the past, Hunter has said mistakes were made.

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