Congressman Duncan Hunter to Reimburse Campaign Funds Used on Video Games, Child's School

A San Diego-area congressman took out a home loan to repay his campaign nearly $49,000 for personal expenses that included online video games, a stay at Hawaii resort and his children's private school tuition.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican representing inland San Diego and Riverside counties, secured a third loan on their home in Alpine on Wednesday to repay expenses that he said were erroneously charged to his campaign.

Hunter announced the reimbursement to the Riverside Press-Enterprise on Thursday, saying he took full responsibility for the errors.

In April, NBC 7 San Diego reported Hunter was being asked about thousands of dollars in campaign funds that appear to have been spent in online video games and tuition to his child's school. 

The Federal Election Commission wanted a response from Hunter regarding 68 charges on a credit card tied to his campaign funds.

Among the charges were a $1,651.00 payment made on September 21, 2015 to Christian Unified Schools. 

There were more than 60 charges to an online video gaming company ranging in amounts from $5 to $96.30. 

A spokesperson for Rep. Hunter said the charges were in no way hidden from the FEC, rather Hunter’s campaign reported the personal expenses in their quarterly reports.

Half of the charges were the result of a conversation the Congressman had with his son in June or July. Hunter told the then-12 year old to grab a credit card from his wallet to set up a subscription on a gaming account, Hunter's spokesperson told NBC 7. The child grabbed the wrong credit card, according to Hunter's spokesperson.

When the issue was discovered in September or October, the gaming subscription was canceled and the Congressman reimbursed the campaign for expenses up to that point, he added.

However, the charges mentioned in the FEC letter occurred after the subscription was canceled. Now, the Congressman is trying to rectify the incorrect charges with the gaming company.

As for the tuition charge, Hunter's spokesperson said that was an error made by the school. 

The campaign made a contribution/donation payment which was counted as tuition payment, the spokesperson said. Once the school closed their books at the end of 2015, the error could not be fixed.

At the time, Hunter's office said the Congressman had already reimbursed the campaign for those tuition funds.

The reimbursement reported by the UT came after Hunter launched an independent audit to identify other improper spending.

"While the charges were primarily authorized by the campaign, the buck stops with me and I take full responsibility -- including the responsibility to determine and implement other structural changes to ensure errors are not repeated," Hunter said in a statement.

Hunter had blamed the mix-ups on the color of his credit cards. His wife, Margaret, is paid $3,000 a month as campaign manager, and Hunter said in April she would no longer be using the campaign charge card.

Democrat Patrick Malloy, who is running against Hunter in Tuesday's election for the 50th District seat, said his opponent's announcement was an empty gesture. "Four days before the election, Hunter is trying to buy your sympathy with $49,000 in appeasement," Malloy said Friday.

Hunter has made national headlines by supporting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and comparing lewd comments made by Trump to talk among Marines.

An image of Hunter vaping at a Congressional hearing on airline cigarette ban went viral online.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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