In the wake of revelations related to a federal investigation regarding Congressman Duncan Hunter’s personal use of campaign funds, as well as the California Republican’s questionable personal behavior during his tenure in Washington, the five-term office-holder reaffirmed Thursday he will run for reelection.
According to a report by Politico earlier in February, in addition to tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds Hunter used to pay for vacations, dining, medical expenses and personal items, sources close to the ex-Marine say he drinks heavily during business hours and may have had affairs with two professional women, an intern he promoted as full-time staff member and a lobbyist.
While Hunter has repaid over $60,000 in improper expense charges, the 41-year-old San Diego native largely blamed his wife, Margaret, who served as his campaign manager, saying he was unaware at the time that the seemingly illegal transactions were made.
However, The San Diego Union-Tribune has found at least six instances where Hunter was present on out-of-town trips paid for with campaign money, including family vacations to Hawaii and Italy in 2015.
Despite the newspaper’s findings, Hunter remained defiant during a local TV interview which aired shortly after the Union-Tribune article was published, saying his campaign’s transgressions were “not done by me,” and attributed personal allegations to the media’s “liberal slant”.
While some GOP members have called for Hunter to step down in a mid-term election cycle likely to generally favor Democrats, El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, San Diego County Sheriff’s Deputy Andrew Zelt and businessman Shamus Sayed have each announced they will seek California’s 50th Congressional District as Republicans.
Six Democrats have also announced their candidacy for the Southern California House seat, which the GOP has held since 2002.
While the 50th District is still considered a “likely Republican” win according to multiple election analysts, two Democratic candidates raised more campaign money than Hunter in the final three months of 2017 — ex-Navy SEAL Josh Butner and former Obama White House aide Ammar Campa-Najjar.
[KGTV San Diego] [Roll Call] [Photo courtesy ELiquid Depot]