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Report reveals more about Rep. Duncan Hunter and probe into his campaign

Christine Mai-Duc, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

The FBI investigation into whether Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., misused campaign funds for personal expenses appears to be intensifying, according to a report by Politico. Among the revelations is that additional grand jury subpoenas have been issued to people close to the five-term congressman. Here are some key new pieces of information from Politico's report:

-- Hunter's parents and a female lobbyist he knows have received grand jury subpoenas. That followed an August raid where the FBI seized computers and documents from Hunter's campaign finance compliance firm. According to Politico's story, Hunter's wife and former campaign manager, Margaret, is at the center of the investigation and made many of the purchases in question. A subpoena was also issued to a business in Hunter's district in December, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

-- Hunter was surprised by the results of a review by an outside law firm his campaign hired to look at spending. In April of 2016, more than $1,300 in video game purchases caught the attention of the Federal Election Commission and the Union-Tribune. Afterward, Hunter hired a law firm to review his campaign spending. Sources told Politico that Hunter was "shocked" when the review turned up more than $60,000 in campaign expenses that he later repaid and blamed the expenses on his wife. They included payments to a dentist, nail salons, theme parks, trips to Italy and $600 to fly the family's pet rabbit. Hunter has said his wife no longer has access to the campaign credit card.

-- He developed a relationship with a young woman on his staff that "caused some of his staffers to question" his judgment. Hunter refused to fire her, even after multiple staffers complained that her work attire was inappropriate and that she frequently missed work, Politico reported. According to the report, the Hunter and the woman frequently texted and she often went with him to the Capitol Hill Club. The FBI has asked about the woman in their investigation, according to Politico's report. When asked about an alleged romantic relationship with the woman and a female lobbyist, Hunter called the questions "tabloid trash" but did not deny the claims.

-- Hunter's father defended him, but neither he nor his son will comment on Margaret Hunter. Duncan L. Hunter, who served in the House for 27 years before helping elect his son to the seat, told Politico his son is "a highly moral person of great character." He also complained about the lengthy FBI investigation and noted "there've been no charges" against his son. Rep. Hunter recently said the investigation was taking too long and accused investigators of being politically motivated. Asked whether his daughter-in-law was innocent, Hunter Sr. declined to comment. Rep. Hunter also refused to answer when Politico asked whether he believed she misspent campaign funds.

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-- Some Republicans are pressuring GOP leaders to force Hunter to step down. They're worried his legal troubles could cost them another House seat in a year that already looks very good for Democrats. While his district is solidly Republican, Hunter has been named one of the top Republican lawmakers in California that Democrats want to unseat in the midterms. He raised only $50,000 in the last three months of 2017, and his campaign is bleeding money.

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