GOP Congressman, Early Trump Backer Duncan Hunter Indicted

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 10:  Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) speaks to the media before a painting he found offensive and removed is rehung on the U.S. Capitol walls on January 10, 2017 in Washington, DC.  The painting is part of a larger art show hanging in the Capitol and is by a recent high school graduate, David Pulphus, and depicts his interpretation of civil unrest in and around the 2014 events in Ferguson, Mo.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and his wife have been indicted for misusing $250,000 in campaign funds and filing false campaign finance documents.

The indictment comes after a yearlong Justice Department investigation into whether the congressman and early supporter of President Trump illegally misused campaign funds for personal reasons. He and his wife Margaret, who also served as his campaign manager, are accused of routinely using campaign money to pay to fly his pet rabbit back and forth from his district, as well as for dental work, multiple vacations including one to Italy, and heavy spending at restaurants.

The charges: Conspiracy to enrich themselves by using campaign funds “for their own personal benefit,” even though campaign staffers warned them that they were violating the law.

Hunter has reimbursed his campaign more than $65,000 already, but maintained that he didn’t commit any crimes, and his lawyers had previously described the lavish spending of campaign funds as “inadvertent and unintentional.”

Hunter was the second House Republican to endorse President Trump, and this indictment means that Trump’s two earliest House backers have now been indicted following Rep. Chris Collins’ (R-NY) own, separate legal troubles.

The indictment could put Hunter’s normally safely Republican seat in jeopardy this fall. President Trump won the San Diego-area district, which is one of the most conservative in the state, by 15 percentage points. But Democrats are excited about their candidate, former Obama administration official Ammar Campa-Najjar, and believe that with the indictment the seat could be in play.

Republicans leaders moved quickly to contain the damage, removing Hunter from his committee assignments.

“The charges against Rep. Hunter are deeply serious. The Ethics Committee deferred its investigation at the request of the Justice Department. Now that he has been indicted, Rep. Hunter will be removed from his committee assignments pending the resolution of this matter,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said in a Tuesday night statement.

CNN has the full indictment here.

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