In the heart of Rep. Duncan D. Hunter’s 50th Congressional District, Republicans were standing by their man Tuesday amid news of his federal indictments.
A dozen GOP activists — plus candidates for the state Assembly, secretary of state and state controller — gathered in the quiet outdoor patio of The Downtown Cafe in El Cajon.
“This is a Republican district. It’s going to stay a Republican district,” said David Burton, president of San Diego East County Screaming Eagles, a state chapter of the National Phyllis Schlafly Eagles.
“Until there’s proof [of crimes], and I see proof and evidence … I won’t just roll over and swallow it.”
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The Rev. Lenna Carpentier, who has an online ministry via the Church of God, said she prayed over Hunter only last Saturday.
“I believe he will be cleared of any wrongdoing,” she said. “I think he’s a good man.”
Still, the 74-year-old minister said nothing surprises her politically.
“But I think Duncan Hunter and his family are honorable people,” Carpentier said. “You can sue anybody. You can indict anybody.”
John Moore, running for the second time against Assemblywoman Shirley Weber in the left-leaning 79th District, said Hunter would retain most of his support “until something definitive comes out, a court decision.”
Hunter has addressed the Republican Party “straight on” several times about the spending issue, Moore noted.
“He’s paid that all back,” he said regarding an earlier $60,000 figure, admitting that the amount stated in the indictment — $250,000 — “is a new number.”
Burton, a 64-year-old El Cajon resident, said he’d “fight to the very end” if he were Hunter and called Adam Braverman — the U.S. attorney in San Diego who wrote the 47-page indictment against Hunter and his wife, Margaret — an appointee of “Barack Hussein Obama” with an “agenda.”
(Braverman, who has worked in the San Diego office since 2008, was appointed last November by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.)
“He’s working with the Democrats,” Burton said of Braverman. “They want that [Hunter] seat at any cost.”
An El Cajon woman who declined to give her name called Hunter “absolutely solid on pro-life. … He’s very solid on our Constitution. He does his best for the good of the country.”
She said she’s “just really sorry that that happened — taking whatever amount of money it was. My understanding is that it’s all been paid back.”
And a 92-year-old World War II veteran named Bob (South Pacific merchant marine and Army) said: “Being indicted doesn’t making you guilty.”
Bob said he didn’t have all the facts, and “my opinion doesn’t make any difference.” But the charges don’t “prove anything. There have been many people indicted — for what?”
Both rode in on bikes — making El Cajon the third of four stops on a San Diego County swing of Meuser’s travels to all 58 California counties.
An elections-law attorney who turns 44 next week, Meuser said it’s a “very sad story” when politicians misuse campaign funds for personal use.
“I’m sad to see a Republican do that,” he said. “I would be pretty sad if a Democrat did that. It’s a violation of trust. … Unfortunately it looks like there’s some evidence of some misuse of funds.”
Should Hunter resign?
“You’re innocent until proven guilty,” Meuser said. “He needs to go through the process. The government has presented their evidence. Now I’m going to wait and see [Hunter’s] response.”
Meuser said it would be up to party leadership to determine Hunter’s fate after viewing the evidence.
“I can’t say more than that,” he said in a district where GOP voters outrank Democrats 41.1 percent to 27.2 percent (but 25.6 percent don’t specify a party).
Roditis — whom Meuser nicknamed “Roadie” — said he didn’t know the 50th District well enough to predict whether Hunter would win a sixth term in November.
“He’ll have his day in court,” Roditis said. “If he did something that was improper or illegal, he should serve time in jail.”
Carpentier, the local minister, said she’s a believer in redemption and repentance. And she said Hunter had repented for “anything that may have been inappropriate.”
“There’s plenty of guilt within government — both state and federal — for a lot of indictments to come out against anybody,” she said.
Burton said that if Hunter’s Democratic challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar were to win it “would be by default, and he wouldn’t last long. He’d only last until the next election.”