San Diego County

High Tabs for Rep. Hunter in Campaign Expense Filings

Congressman Duncan Hunter's campaign spending at bars and "bar-dominant" restaurants by far exceeds that of other San Diego County representatives, according to a published report.

Federal prosecutors are investigating the alleged personal use of his campaign donations.

Hunter has repaid $60,000 to his campaign treasury for a long list of questionable expenses.

Examples: video games, groceries, family vacations including one to Italy, and airfare for a pet rabbit that he's attributed to mistakes.

The numbers for his campaign entertainment costs were compiled by the San Diego Union-Tribune, which has been looking into that spending for two years now.

The U-T has found 301 transactions at bars, liquor stores and "bar-related" restaurants over a nearly a decade that amounted to almost $140,000. 

The bottom line there? 

Nearly $124,000. 

In three years alone, the Hunter campaign visited Washington D.C.’s Bullfeathers restaurant 66 times. 

In the 15-month period ending March 31, 2016, Hunter's campaign reported 66 charges at bars, restaurants, liquor stores and cigar lounges, adding up to more than $36,000. 

That’s roughly a quarter of what the campaign organization spent in almost ten years. 

The closest any of Hunter's four colleagues in San Diego County's congressional delegation came to his campaign spending during that period was $5,402, for 13 charges. 

Despite Hunter’s repeated denials of criminal activity, political observers are struck by this focus of news coverage on his campaign finances. 

"If that would happen just within a vacuum, that might raise one eyebrow,” says Republican consultant John Dadian. “The fact that it's coming in conjunction with a ‘pay back sixty thousand dollars for charging things that were inappropriate’, or whatever -- it just compounds it. And so both eyebrows are raised, and the jaw is dropped." 

Hunter faces seven challengers in the June 5th primary election. 

We reached out to his office Monday for comment. 

So far, no response.

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