This week's criminal indictment of Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and his wife was quite brutal. Federal prosecutors allege that the Republican congressman and his wife stole more than $250,000 in campaign funds and used the money to pay for personal purchases, ranging from trips to school tuition to dental work.
In case that weren't enough, a Washington Post report highlighted the Hunters' efforts to cover up their alleged misdeeds, often claiming their purchases were for charities, including veterans' charities -- claims the indictment says were fraudulent. The Post's article added that the prosecutors' allegations "read like a caricature of a corrupt, greedy politician."
I was eager to hear how the GOP lawmaker would respond to the indictment, because at face value, the allegations look awfully bad for him. Hunter's first defense was that Democrats in the Justice Department are picking on him. Here's pitch the congressman made to KGTV in San Diego the other day:
"We're excited about going to trial with this, frankly," Hunter said of the indictment. "This is modern politics and modern media mixed in with law enforcement that has a political agenda. That's the new Department of Justice."The Republican congressman added, "This is the Democrats' arm of law enforcement, that's what's happening right now. It's happening with [President] Trump, it's happening with me.
This is plainly silly. Democrats don't run the Justice Department; Donald Trump's political appointees do. In fact, the charges were brought by the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego, which is led by a Trump appointee, who was chosen for the post by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
What's more, there are specific charges detailed in the indictment against Hunter. Instead of offering some kind of explanation, the California Republican whined about being a victim of a nonsensical conspiracy?
Last night, the GOP lawmaker tried a new tack: he blamed his wife.
Rep. Duncan D. Hunter seemed to shift any blame onto his wife, Margaret, on Thursday for alleged campaign fund abuses, saying she was the one handling his finances."She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did that'll be looked at too, I'm sure," the California Republican said on Fox News."But I didn't do it," Hunter said. "I didn't spend any money illegally."
I don't know if this will bolster the congressman's legal defense, but I have a hunch it's likely to make Thanksgiving dinner with the Hunters a little awkward this year.