U.S. Republican Representative Hunter indicted for alleged misuse of campaign funds

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter, a Republican of California, was indicted on charges that he and his wife used hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to pay for vacations, video games and other personal expenses and filed false campaign finance reports, federal officials said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA) speaks at the launch of the Isla Bella, the first container ship to be powered by liquid natural gas, during a nighttime ceremony at General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, California April 18, 2015. REUTERS/Earnie Grafton/File Photo

Hunter, who was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008, has been accused of conspiracy, wire fraud, falsification of records and other charges, said Adam Braverman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California.

Braverman said in a statement that a federal grand jury indicted the lawmaker and his wife on charges that they misused more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for family vacations, groceries, video games, meals and other personal expenses.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called the charges against Hunter “deeply serious” and said that Hunter would be removed from his committee assignments pending resolution of the charges.

Hunter, a former Marine officer who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Education and Workforce Committee. He represents a district that covers parts of San Diego County.

Mike Harrison, a spokesman for Hunter, said the congressman “believes this action is purely politically motivated.” Hunter’s attorney, Gregory Vega, made a similar accusation in an Aug. 6 letter to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Vega said in the letter that Hunter, 41, was an early congressional supporter of Donald Trump for president while two members of the prosecution team had attended a private fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic opponent in the 2016 presidential race.

Vega charged that the “overt political leanings” of the two prosecutors created an “apparent conflict that cannot be ignored.”

Another early backer of Trump, Republican Representative Chris Collins of New York, ended his bid for re-election earlier this month after he was charged with participating in an insider trading scheme.

Reporting by Richard Cowan and Sharon Bernstein; Editing by David Alexander and Leslie Adler

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