Margaret Hunter — the wife of indicted congressman Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA) — pleaded guilty Thursday to “knowingly and willfully” raiding her husband’s campaign account to pay nearly $250,000 in often-extravagant personal expenses, including trips to Las Vegas and Italy — as well as “airline travel charges for the family’s pet rabbit, Eggburt.”
Margaret Hunter’s guilty plea directly implicates her husband as a co-conspirator in the criminal effort to “disguise” the personal spending “as campaign-related.” As part of her agreement with prosecutors she has promised to “provide substantial assistance to the United States in the investigation and prosecution of others.” Duncan Hunter’s trial is scheduled to begin in September.
Rep. Hunter was indicted last summer — and alternately blamed his wife and the “deep state” for his legal troubles. The congressman then eked out a victory for his San Diego-area House seat in November after running an openly bigoted smear campaign against his Democratic rival, Ammar Campa-Najjar. Despite his re-election, Hunter was stripped of his committee assignments by then-Speaker Paul Ryan.
The congressman, who served three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Marines, has lately made news by declaring that he took photos of the bodies of dead combatants, and that his unit had likely killed “hundreds of civilians” in Iraq.
The plea deal signed by Margaret Hunter details how the cash-strapped couple treated the congressman’s campaign fund as a personal piggy bank. As summarized by the government, they dipped into it to afford “family vacations, household goods and groceries, restaurants and bar tabs, a bachelor party, gas, fast food, retail shopping, cash withdrawals, a garage door, and personal Uber rides,” as well as other expenses. (Duncan Hunter’s indictment also details spending on five “personal relationships” with women who are not Margaret Hunter.)
“Defendant and Hunter had an implicit agreement that they would and could illegally use Campaign funds for personal use, both when they were together and when they were apart,” Margaret Hunter’s plea deal reads, “and they confirmed their understanding of this agreement by performing numerous overt acts, many of which required their joint coordination and planning.”
Illegal spending detailed in the guilty plea includes: a couples vacation in Las Vegas, a $10,000 family trip to Italy, an Easter brunch at San Diego’s famed Hotel del Coronado, and swag from Disneyland, including “two Minnie Mouse ear headbands, a Star Wars droid knit beanie, and a raglan-sleeve black-and-gray Star Wars girls T-shirt.”
Margaret Hunter’s sentencing is scheduled for mid-September. She is facing a maximum of five years in prison and five years probation — a punishment that’s likely to be downsized through her promise to “tell everything Defendant knows about every person involved presently or in the past in conduct outlined in … the plea agreement, or any other violations of United States law.”