In a stinging rebuke of claims that Congressman Duncan Hunter was largely unaware of alleged campaign misspending, federal prosecutors said grand jury transcripts “...demonstrate Hunter was all to painfully aware of (and even encouraged) his wife’s improprieties, (which) enabled the Hunters to maintain their comfortable standard of living despite their staggering debt.”
This latest court document provides an inside look at the conflicting evidence against Hunter, who faces a Jan. 22 trial on allegations he and his wife illegally spent more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use, including overseas travel, bar tabs, and video games for their children.
Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty to a felony conspiracy charge in June and is expected to testify against her husband.
In his latest court filing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Halpern alleges that Duncan Hunter’s attorney “...selectively quotes a mere half dozen sentences out of more than 300 pages of grand jury testimony.”
Halpern claims the congressman’s legal team distorted testimony by former campaign fundraiser Sheila Hardison to give the false impression that Hunter was unaware of campaign misspending.
Halpern says the defense ignored Hardison’s “testimony that Hunter was aware that Margaret was using her campaign credit card for personal expenses, and that it was a crime to do so.”
The government’s filing also alleges the defense mischaracterized testimony by congressional field representative Joe Browning, who, according to the defense, told grand jurors that Margaret Hunter was “in control” of the couple’s finances.
In a footnote in his filing, prosecutor Halpern notes, “Browning was not testifying to Margaret being in control of the family or campaign finances, but only to being ‘in control’ of their personal relationship and noting that the Hunters had significant marital disagreements.”
Both sides are using the grand jury testimony by three witnesses to support their arguments for and against the prosecution’s effort to disqualify defense attorney Paul Pfingst, who recently joined Duncan Hunter’s defense team.
Prosecutors claim Pfingst has a conflict of interest because one of his law partners represented Browning, Hardison, and campaign treasurer Bruce Young when they testified to the grand jury that indicted the Hunters.
The defense argues that testimony provided by those three witnesses shows the absence of a legal conflict.
In contrast, the government’s most recent filing highlights different testimony to support its contention that Pfingst has a significant conflict that can only be cured by his removal from the defense team.