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Hunter should prove to be easy prey for prosecutors

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

SAN DIEGO -- Will Rogers never met a man he didn't like. And, apparently, Duncan Hunter Jr. never took an oath he didn't violate.

The San Diego-area congressman -- whose personal and professional lives ought to be cordoned off by little orange cones due to poor judgment -- allegedly broke most of the vows he swore to his wife, his country and his constituents.

This week, the Republican walked into a federal courthouse and rolled the dice on a last-ditch attempt to skirt punishment for his sins.

The disgraced lawmaker is accused of misusing more than $250,000 in campaign funds to support a lavish lifestyle. Between 2010 and 2016, he and his wife, Margaret, allegedly dipped into the till to pay for expensive vacations, private-school tuition, dental bills, football tickets and other goodies -- all while their personal checking account was repeatedly overdrawn.

Last year, Hunter -- an ex-Marine who did three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan -- tried to save his own skin by putting his wife in harm's way. He claimed that she kept the books.

Now the congressman is pleading not guilty and claiming the federal indictment -- which includes charges of wire fraud, conspiracy and falsifying records -- is due to a misunderstanding.

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What he needs to understand is how much hot water he is in given that his wife has already turned state's evidence.

Last month, Margaret Hunter agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and admitted -- in a 22-page guilty plea -- to conspiring with her husband to "knowingly and willingly" use campaign funds for personal use.

As for the roll of the dice, the congressman's attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case because, they claimed, it was politically motivated. Two assistant U.S. attorneys who helped put together the case against Hunter attended a 2015 fundraiser for Hillary Clinton and posed for a photo with her. Meanwhile, Hunter was one of the first members of Congress to endorse then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016.

Hunter and Trump are kindred spirits. Neither lets the fact that he doesn't understand the first thing about immigration stop him from exploiting it for political gain. Hunter supports a border wall and opposes legal status for the undocumented. Once he even suggested that we deport the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants, aka U.S. citizens.

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