Indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter’s latest defense of his and his wife’s alleged campaign fraud abuses essentially boils down to “women be shopping.”
The California Republican shifted the blame on his wife, Margaret, telling Fox News Thursday night that she was the one handling the family’s finances and that he gave his wife power of attorney in 2003.
“She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did that’ll be looked at too, I’m sure,” he said. “But I didn’t do it … I didn’t spend any money illegally.”
Hunter was slammed with a federal indictment Tuesday for allegedly embezzling more than $250,000 in campaign funds over seven years, as well as wire fraud and falsifying spending records on things like groceries, family vacations, school tuition, and restaurant and bar tabs. A former Marine, Hunter is also accused of attempting to falsify the use of campaign funds as a donation to “wounded warriors.”
The Hunters pleaded not guilty to those charges Thursday morning.
During his interview with Fox News, Hunter also suggested that his $174,000 salary is not enough to live on in his Southern California district, despite the fact that it is almost three times greater than the median household income in California.
“It depends where you live. It’s difficult to live in a place like San Francisco or San Diego or New York or D.C.,” he said. “It’s probably easier to live in Kansas or Missouri, so it’s all relative.”
Hunter, whose father served as a congressman in the same reliably red district before him, is currently running for re-election, but the recent charges against him may shake things up. Hunter’s Democratic challenger, Ammar Campa-Najjar, a Latino Arab-American and former labor aide in the Obama administration, had already outpaced the embattled incumbent in fundraising. Following news of the indictment this week, the Cook Political Report shifted the CA-50 race from Likely Republican to Lean Republican.
“After 40 years — almost half a century — of one family ruling this district, we’re finally going to give the seat back to its rightful owners: not Hunter, not me, but the people of the 50th congressional district,” Campa-Majjar said, according to Fox 5 San Diego.