We’ve gotten a number of emails making the same basic argument on the Duncan Hunter/Shagfund mystery aas TPM Reader TP. And I’m starting to think they are on to something …
I think the more interesting part of the Duncan Hunter mystery get-togethers is likely to be the guest lists.
The government clearly has no problem with publicly embarrassing Hunter, who eminently deserves the public shaming, so if the issue was merely some other tawdry conduct on his part, it’s hard to imagine it not being spelled out. My guess (and it is only a guess) is that “close personal friends” is code for “other members of Congress” and that they were all up to no good. Maybe not criminal shenanigans, but activities both “non-work related” and deeply embarrassing for all involved. If that is the case, it would also explain why Hunter is still considering a stipulation related to those facts. A stipulation could be worded vaguely enough on some details to protect the identities of the “close personal friends” while still giving the government what it needs from a prosecutorial standpoint. You have to imagine he’s in a shitstorm at home and might want to forestall having it spread to D.C. for as long as possible. I’m hoping the discussions on a stipulation fail so that we can get the details on this in writing and soon.
The mystery here is that it has to be a) very sensitive, damaging, potentially tainting and yet b) presumably not illegal in itself, otherwise we’d see charges. In terms of tainting a jury, making people deeply really hostile to the defendant, routinely using campaign funds to cheat on your wife seems pretty close to maxing out. Yes, we could all imagine some pretty crazy but yet non-criminal stuff. But protecting other public figures makes a lot more sense.