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Feds: Duncan Hunter Used Campaign Funds For Extramarital Affairs

 June 26, 2019 at 11:05 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 It was hinted at before, but now prosecutors have detailed allegations of adulterous affairs by San Diego. Congressman Duncan Hunter financed in part by campaign funds. Federal attorneys filed court documents this week outlining some of the evidence they say is part of the campaign finance embezzlement case against the republican congressman. The documents alleged hunters spent a campaign money during relationships with five romantic partners since he was first elected to Congress. Joining me as Jeff McDonald investigative reporter at the San Diego Union Tribune and Jeff, welcome back. Hi Maureen. Now the initial indictment implied that congressman hunter had engaged in extra marital affairs. So what new information did we learn from the various filings prosecutors made in court this week? Speaker 2: 00:48 Well, we learned about everything except the identities of the women involved. Uh, three of them there unnamed individuals, 14 through 18. So they were five women. Three of them were lobbyists with whom he had professional on. Then social and personal relationships. Two of them were congressional staffers, including one woman on his own staff. So that's what we know about them specifically. Speaker 1: 01:11 What's the connection between the spending of campaign funds and these alleged affairs as the prosecution is laid out this week? Speaker 2: 01:20 Well, what the filing says is it, the congressman was using his campaign credit card to pay for his, uh, trips with girlfriends to hotels, to restaurants, to bars, to resorts, uh, using them for rental cars, for getaway vacations. Uh, and clearly election law doesn't allow members of Congress to use campaign donations to support extra marital affairs. So that's what, that's what the document spells out. Speaker 1: 01:46 And what prompted the prosecution to release this information now? Speaker 2: 01:51 Well, we can't know that, uh, except that, uh, the document does say that they worked with hunters lawyer to stipulate to some of this stuff in order to avoid putting it out into the public domain. And that, uh, either the congressman and, or has lawyers resisted that a stipulation is what it's called in legal parlance and forced the prosecutors to put it into the public record. Now, the reason they made the filing is they want to make sure that they're able to bring this, uh, these findings and these expenses into evidence at trial. Speaker 1: 02:26 Did this potential stipulation mean that the prosecutors were negotiating or trying to negotiate a plea deal with hunter? Speaker 2: 02:34 Not necessarily, although those discussions could be ongoing for all we know, we don't have any way of knowing that this was a negotiation specifically to prevent this information from coming out in more detail than it did in the initial indictment. What the prosecutor said in their filing is that they were working with the defense to try and preserve this uh, confidentiality and that, uh, the congressman was willing to stipulate that the spending had happened to further these extra marital affairs so they put it forward in public so that the court would be aware of their evidence and allow it into testimony at trial. There's one really interesting nugget at the bottom of this particular filing that says there's other personal information that they have yet to bring forward and they are negotiating with the congressman to keep that out of the public domain and that the congressman is negotiating a stipulation for that information that's unrelated to the extra marital affairs. So we're not clear on what that is, but there's an illusion to it. At the bottom of the, uh, the filing yesterday or this week Speaker 1: 03:41 now. Hunter's legal team, uh, filed with the court this week as well and they requested a dismissal of the charges. Tell us about that. Speaker 2: 03:50 Yes. Uh, all of these filings were made Monday and there were 15 or 16 of them all told most of them by the prosecution, but several key filings from the defense, uh, including an outright dismissal request that the case be dismissed for lack of grounds. They also asked to recuse a couple of prosecutors that the congressman is accused of being Hillary Clinton supporters, hence the politically motivated charges that he claims in a, in public and in court papers. Interestingly, another filing requests that the trial be moved outside San Diego County and outside the southern district of California into the Eastern District of California, which is rural eastern North California. That a favored Trump in the 2016 race. They actually spell out in their motion for the change of venue requests that the eastern district is more appropriate because voters there in 2016 supported Donald Trump at a much greater rate than they did elsewhere. In the state. Speaker 1: 04:48 How's the judge in the case made a decision about these motions? Speaker 2: 04:52 Not Clear. Usually what happens in trials is the judge reads all these motions and then comes to court armed with the arguments. Sometimes he or she invites, uh, oral arguments to supplement the briefings that have already done filed. Other times he'll rule from the bench or she will rule from the bench. It's not clear what this judge will do come Monday. Uh, but all of these are pretrial motions that it will be adjudicated in court on Monday or, uh, and or decisions will be released about the rulings will come after Monday's appearance. So Monday's a key day for the congressman and then we'll all know what the judge decides sometime either Monday or in ensuing days or weeks. Speaker 1: 05:35 The San Diego Union Tribune first started reporting on questionable spending by hunters campaign back a few years ago. Now, of course, it's mushroomed into this national news story with sex and scandal. But can you remind us of the fundamental issue at the heart of this case? Speaker 2: 05:52 Right. Election law says you can solicit donations from anybody you see fit long as they're here in the United States, legally, or corporations, of course, donate money every day. Uh, that money is supposed to be used for reelection purposes or for campaign purposes, logistical expenses. Now you can spend it at hotels and restaurants if you're conducting a campaign related event. But according to the filings from the federal prosecutors, especially this week, uh, these were not campaign related expenses and some of the ones we'd reported on in previous years, you know, the garage door being fixed with campaign money or the oral surgery being paid for with campaign monies or the private school tuition being paid for with campaign moneys that appeared to be pretty classic violations of the, uh, of the federal campaign laws. I've been speaking with Jeff McDonald, investigative reporter at the San Diego Union Tribune. Jeff, thank you. You Bet. Thank you. Maureen.

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Federal prosecutors turned up the heat in their prosecution of Rep. Duncan Hunter, alleging in new court papers that he used campaign funds to pursue extramarital affairs with lobbyists and congressional aides, including one in his office.
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