Duncan Hunter used campaign funds for daughter's Irish dance competition trip, prosecutors say

Prosecutors claimed a new filing Monday that Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., was told as early as 2010 that he and his wife were breaking the law by using campaign funds for personal expenditures that included a trip to Arizona for his daughter’s Irish dancing competition, according to a report.

Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted in August 2018 for allegedly misusing more than $250,000 in campaign funds, less than three months before he won reelection last year.


A footnote in the filing said Hunter reported to his chief of staff that he timed the Phoenix Irish dance competition trip to coincide with a “meeting with a (charity event) coordinator,” The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

“Hunter traveled to Phoenix in January 2016 for his daughter’s Irish dance competition and visited [congressional field representative Joseph] Browning to ‘take a look at (his) retirement place’ — but did not discuss any campaign business,” the filing said.

“Campaign records demonstrate that Hunter used at least $632 in campaign funds to pay for this social visit to Phoenix,” the footnote said, according to The Tribune.

Browning previously testified to the grand jury in Hunter's case.

Sheila Hardison, who fundraised for Hunter’s campaign, testified for the grand jury that the congressman was aware by 2010 that his wife was using campaign funds for “personal expenses” and that “it was a crime to do so," The Tribune reported.

Beyond the Arizona trip, the indictment alleges the Hunters also used campaign money for private school tuition, dental work, video games, a personal camera and a family trip to Italy, among other things.

Prosecutors also argued in the filing that an attorney slated to join Hunter’s defense team should be disqualified for conflict of interest because another attorney at his firm has represented witnesses interviewed for the grand jury in Hunter’s case.

Hunter and his wife pleaded not guilty in August 2018, but Margaret Hunter switched her plea to guilty one count of conspiracy in a deal reached in June. She has agreed to testify against her husband.

Hunter says he is still running for reelection in 2020, although former San Diego Congressman Darrell Issa has said he plans to run for Hunter’s seat.

Hunter’s criminal trial is scheduled for January.


A call to Hunter's San Diego office for comment was not immediately returned.