Duncan Hunter
Rep. Duncan D. Hunter at a town hall in Ramona. Photo by Chris Stone

Rep. Duncan Hunter said Wednesday his indictment for alleged misuse of campaign funds is a politically motivated “witch hunt” and likened his situation to that of President Trump.

“The fact is that there is a culture operating within our Justice Department that is politically motivated,” said Hunter. “It is a sad state of affairs when those entrusted with upholding the law have no appreciation for following the rule of law.”

Hunter’s campaign issued the statement by the five-term congressman from East County a day after he was indicted by a grand jury for alleged personal use of $250,000 in campaign funds.

Rep. Duncan D. Hunter statement via spokesman Michael Harrison. (PDF)

Hunter said his indictment was politically motivated because it came between the primary and general election.

“We are seeing this with President Trump; we are seeing this with my case. This is evidenced by the fact that after two years of investigating, the Department of Justice decided to take this action right before my election.”

He criticized the “constant barrage of misinformation and salacious headlines in our media” and explained that he has chosen to remain silent in order “not to feed into this witch-hunt.”

In addition to the statement, Hunter’s campaign released an Aug. 6 letter to the Justice Department in which Hunter’s attorneys argued that issuing an indictment after the primary but before the general election would effectively hand the seat to Hunter’s Democratic challenger, Ammar Campa-Najjar.

The letter by Hunter attorney Gregory Vega to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein called for a delay in the expected indictment.

Among other things, Vega alleged that U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman should be recused from the investigation because of a perceived conflict of interest.

Gregory Vega letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. (PDF)

But something not mentioned in this week’s indictment regarded what Vega called “personal indiscretions of the congressman that the prosecutors seem intent on charging. (The prosecutors even said they have ‘pictures’ to prove it).”

Vega feared disclosure of details that reflected “spending of campaign funds for extramarital infidelities and excessive drinking.”

The attorney added: “While there may be evidence of infidelity, irresponsibility, or alcohol dependence, once properly understood, the underlying facts do not equate to criminal activity; these allegations are, however, intended to embarrass and humiliate the congressman shortly before a crucial election, and also to alienate him from his wife, the only other person under investigation and his intended co-defendant.”

Although the indictment wasn’t explicit, the campaign of Democratic challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar said in a statement Wednesday: “Beyond the trip to Italy, flying the pet rabbit around, delinquent family dentistry bills and video games (and more) — Duncan Hunter Jr. also used campaign funds to pay multiple mistresses.”

At least one of the mistresses he was seeing was on his staff, the Campa campaign alleged, saying Hunter “used the power of his office to initiate inappropriate relations in the workplace.”

Quoted was an indictment section that referred to Individuals numbered 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18, who “lived in the Washington, D.C. area and had personal relationships” Hunter. “In addition, Individual 16 worked with DUNCAN HUNTER.”

Hunter and his wife, Margaret, are scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in federal court in San Diego.

— Updated at 5:50 p.m. Aug. 22, 2018

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