Rep. Duncan Hunter is betting his Alpine home on being re-elected to Congress. Or at least for repaying money spent from his election campaign fund on personal expenses like Disneyland trips, hotels and travel, 16 trips to Jack-in-the-Box, online video games, and more, much more.
Hunter apparently is hoping that the third home mortgage is the charm as it was reported he took out a third home mortgage loan to repay his campaign nearly $49,000 for personal expenses that also included a stay at Hawaii resort and his children’s private school tuition.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Hunter, a Republican representing inland San Diego and Riverside counties, secured a third loan on his Alpine home on Wednesday to repay expenses that he said were erroneously charged to his campaign.
Hunter announced the reimbursement to the Riverside Press-Enterprise on Thursday, saying he took full responsibility for the errors.
Questions about his campaign spending began with a Federal Election Commission inquiry in the spring and led Hunter to repay his campaign $12,000. The latest reimbursement came after Hunter launched an independent audit to identify other improper spending.
Federal law forbids spending of campaign funds for personal purposes or benefit, to guard against corrupting influences by donors. In Hunter’s case, defense contractors and others with interests before committees on which he serves are his primary contributors.
“While the charges were primarily authorized by the campaign, the buck stops with me and I take full responsibility — including the responsibility to determine and implement other structural changes to ensure errors are not repeated,” Hunter said in a statement.
Hunter had blamed the mix-ups on the color of his credit cards. His wife, Margaret, is paid $3,000 a month as campaign manager, and Hunter said in April she would no longer be using the campaign charge card.
Democrat Patrick Malloy, who is running against Hunter in Tuesday’s election for the 50th District seat, said his opponent’s announcement was an empty gesture. “Four days before the election, Hunter is trying to buy your sympathy with $49,000 in appeasement,” Malloy said.
Campaign disbursements used illegally for Hunter’s personal expenses — most of them incurred in 2015 before the Federal Election Commission complaint — included:
106 fill-ups at gas stations, totaling $5,660.
16 trips to Jack in the Box totaling $297.
Forty trips to Albertson’s, Trader Joe’s or another grocery store, spending $6,819 total.
An expense for $229 at a Disneyland gift shop for “food/beverages.” A spokesman for the park told the Union-Tribune the only edible items the store sells are Pez candy and a Star Wars-themed Rice Krispy treat.
Utilities — $1,269 for San Diego Gas & Electric and $300 to the Padre Dam Municipal Water District.
More than $2,000 on restaurants, hotels and train travel in the Italian cities of Rome, Florence and Positano during the Thanksgiving holiday week in 2015.
A payment for $216 to Gioielleria Manetti in Florence, listed on a disclosure report as “food/beverages.” The store makes and customizes jewelry and watches, according to its website. A store representative said it offers no food or drinks.
$1,300 spent at the Cardiff-by-the-Sea restaurant that provides lunches to Hunter’s children’s El Cajon private school.