It’s no surprise that Rep. Duncan D. Hunter turned to KUSI to publicly share his reasons for pleading guilty in his corruption case. The station’s conservative ownership has long been friendly to the Alpine Republican.
But less certain was why Hunter’s spokesman, Michael Harrison, distributed to media what he first called a transcript of the 3-minute chat at odds with what Hunter actually said Monday morning.
The emailed transcript included a 59-word concluding remark that KUSI didn’t air.
“I have fought for this nation, overseas and at home,” the transcript says. “I’ve met and served with men who have paid a far higher price for their service, some the ultimate price. I will be OK, our district will be OK, and our nation will be OK. We are fighters and we never give up the challenge in front of us.”
Hunter said none of that in his chat with veteran KUSI reporter Steve Bosh, who has declined comment.
On Wednesday, Harrison clarified the matter.
“In an attempt to provide additional information to the high volume of media inquires our office was receiving, I incorrectly identified the statement as a transcript instead of specifically referring to it as a prepared statement,” he told Times of San Diego. “As the communications director for Congressman Hunter, this was my mistake and I take full responsibility and apologize for the confusion it created.”
Hunter went on to call Bosh an excellent and respected reporter.
“KUSI is an outstanding news organization that has always demonstrated journalistic integrity and reporting,” he said. “We appreciate their interest and availability in conducting an important interview with Congressman Hunter.”
In other exchanges, Hunter told Bosh: “My only hope is that the judge does not sentence my wife to jail. I think my kids need a mom in the home.”
The prepared statement said: “It is my hope that the court will not sentence my wife to jail. My daughters need a mom in the house.” (The Hunters have a son and two younger daughters.)
Hunter told Bosh: “No. 1, not a single dime of taxpayer money is involved in this. The plea that I accepted was misuse of my own campaign funds of which I pled guilty to only one count. I think it’s important that people know that I did make mistakes. I did not properly monitor or account for my campaign money. I justify that plea with the understanding that I am responsible for my campaign and what happens to my campaign money.
The prepared statement said: “The charge I am accepting in this plea does not involve one penny of taxpayer money, only the misuse of my own campaign money, to which I am pleading guilty to one count. I have made mistakes and failed to properly monitor and account for all campaign expenses. I justify that plea with the understanding that I am responsible for my campaign and what happens on my watch.”
Hunter told Bosh: “Last year, I was the only Republican to be elected to Congress in Orange County and San Diego. I think it’s important to keep the seat a Republican seat. President Trump right now needs support more than ever for strong national security, border security and good high-paying jobs in this country. And I think that’s really important to keep this in the right hands and the right column.”
The prepared statement said: “Last election I was the only Republican to be reelected and keep his congressional seat in San Diego and Orange County. It is critical that Republicans keep this seat to provide President Trump with the support he needs to keep America great with strong national security, border security and good jobs for the American people.”
It is common for public officials to make available a transcript of prepared remarks — with the expectation that the speaker may depart from the coming speech. But the transcript, as it was first depicted, of Hunter’s KUSI appearance was sent via email at 1:29 p.m. — hours after the interview aired.
During the Bosh chat, Hunter is shown gazing down about a dozen times, as if consulting notes. A single 2-second shot of both of them shows Hunter with nothing in his hands or lap. But papers can be seen on the floor behind Hunter’s right foot.
Bosh asked several questions, including: “So this is kind of a major development. What should people know about it?”
The Transcript said Bosh asked: “What should people know about this development?”
Updated at 11:38 a.m. Dec. 4, 2019