WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors alleged late Monday that Rep. Duncan Hunter illegally used campaign funds to carry on extramarital affairs with three lobbyists, a congressional aide and one of his staffers.
Hunter, R-Calif., was indicted in 2018 on charges that he improperly used tens of thousands of dollars from his campaign's treasury to fund his personal lifestyle, charging the campaign for luxury vacations and groceries. Hunter, who was re-elected later that year, has denied the allegations, and said the charges against him were "politically motivated."
Prosecutors offered new details about how Hunter had used campaign funds in court filings late Monday in preparation for Hunter's trial. They described his relationships with unnamed women in Washington and said Hunter used campaign money to pay for hotel stays and late-night Uber rides after visiting their homes.
In a separate filing, prosecutors alleged that the Hunters were deep in debt, with less than $1,000 in any one bank account and overdrawing their bank accounts "1,100 times in a seven-year period."
In another Monday court filing, Hunter's lawyers moved to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that two officials in the U.S. Attorney's office prosecuting the case attended a Hillary Clinton fundraiser in 2016 and tried to get a photo with her, which they argued created a conflict of interest. Hunter's lawyers say that Hunter's prosecution is in retaliation for endorsing Trump that year, though they offered no detail to substantiate that claim.
Prosecutors separately asked a judge Monday to caution Hunter that he should "refrain from making improper public statements that could poison the pool of potential jurors."
Hunter did not respond to questions about the filings on Tuesday.
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The Justice Department filings offer more detail about the evidence prosecutors hope to use at Hunter's trial, which is scheduled for September 10, 2019. Prosecutors said they want jurors to hear about Hunter's "intimate" relationships to prove that Hunter's misuse of funds was "wholly personal," that he had "knowledge and intent to embezzle campaign funds," and that he had "motive to embezzle from the campaign."
Among the details prosecutors outlined:
Skiing, golfing, and other outings with a lobbyist
In January 2010, prosecutors said Hunter spent a weekend skiing at Lake Tahoe with a lobbyist, referred to in the filings only as Individual 14, and paid for the hotel tab with $1,008 in campaign funds. He also used campaign funds to pay for airfare and car rentals on that trip.
In March 2010, Hunter and the lobbyist went on a weekend "double date" trip to Virginia Beach with another congressman. Prosecutors said he paid for the hotel bar tab and room he shared with the unnamed lobbyist with $905 of campaign funds. He also had the mileage for the drive to Virginia Beach reimbursed by the campaign – even though the lobbyist did the driving.
An affair with a House leadership staffer
Hunter began an affair with a person who "worked in the office of a member of the House of Representatives leadership," after attending the 2012 Republican National Convention. The Justice Department filing details how "Hunter often took an Uber to [her] home after work or evening events, which he typically paid for using campaign funds."
In one instance, "After drinks, they went back to [her] home and spent the night together; Hunter used $21 in campaign funds on an Uber back to the office at 1:49 am that night."
An affair with one of his own staff
The Justice Department alleged that in January 2015, Hunter began an affair with one of his staff members. According to the filing, "the two occasionally spent nights together at his office, and Hunter took [her] out to socialize with his friends, using campaign funds to pay for their dates."
On one "triple date" at a bar in Washington, Hunter used $202 in campaign funds to pay for drinks and snacks at the bar, and $20 for an Uber ride after. Hunter later took a "high-school age relative," the staffer, and a group of other friends out for $352 of pizza in what he called a "nice family evening" in a text message.
Campaign funds paid for Ubers to meet lobbyists for rendezvouses
The Justice Department also alleges that Hunter used campaign funds to pay for "intimate personal activities unrelated to Hunter's congressional campaign or duties as a member of Congress," that is to say, meeting lobbyists for extramarital affairs.
Included in the filing are two other lobbyists with whom Hunter carried on affairs and used campaign funds to pay Ubers after late-night rendezvouses with the lobbyists.
On June 13, Hunter's wife Margaret Hunter pled guilty to a single corruption count and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and testify against Duncan Hunter. Prosecutors said in a separate filing that they might call Margaret Hunter to testify against her husband.
The Justice Department also alluded to "additional potentially sensitive conduct" involving Hunter and his "close personal friends" but did not disclose further details for fear of "improperly tainting the jury pool before the trial begins."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Prosecutors say Rep. Duncan Hunter used campaign funds to pay for affairs with lobbyists and aides