Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, is one of only 30 persons undergoing the highest U.S. security rating reviews for a top national security or defense department job, NBC News said Thursday evening.
Two published reports said Hunter might even be named National Security Advisor.
“Early endorsers, like Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), could be in line for top posts as well,” at the Department of Defense or as National Security Advisor, Politico said.
“The apparent consideration of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) for National Security Adviser also have an excessively muscular tinge,” said Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute, in Huffington Post.
Writing an opinion piece earlier this year Hunter said:
“On national security, Trump’s message of peace through superior firepower has resonated. He too knows that America’s enemies — from al-Qaida and the Islamic State to Iran — fear the strength of the U.S. military and its vast technological edge.”
Hunter’s only major piece of legislation was what he termed a “sarcastic” amendment to the annual Department of Defense spending bill calling for women to be drafted into the military. It passed his House Armed Services Committee 32-30 — with Hunter opposing his own bill — and was passed into law by Congress.
The proposal attracted support from nearly all the panel’s Democrats, along with six Republicans.
“While you may be offering this as a gotcha amendment, I would suggest that there’s great merit and recognizing that each of us have an obligation to be willing to serve our country in a time of war,” said Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat.
In September, Hunter wrote a letter to the Food and Drug Administration asking that the agency allow donating tobacco products — specifically cigars — to members of the military.
“You, or anyone else there who doesn’t care to go fight, or wants me to do it for you, I get to smoke cigars,” Hunter said.
Tobacco helps service members calm their nerves, relax, and function better in high-stress situations, he said.
“Why put me under undue stress?” he said.
And he said he’s not concerned about the potentially deadly health problems that tobacco use causes, or the cost of caring for veterans with tobacco-related diseases.
“I don’t care. When it comes to guys overseas fighting, I don’t care,” he said.
The military removed cigarettes from field rations more than 40 years ago and it’s been over six decades since the first surgeon general warning appeared on cigarettes.
Hunter, 40, of Alpine, has served in Congress since 2009. Prior to that his father, Duncan L Hunter served in Congress from 1981 to 2009.
Hunter, the vaping, Trump supporting Republican congressman who represents portions of San Diego County in California, on Thursday, Nov. 4 promised to repay $49,000 to his campaign account after complaints filed to the Federal Election Commission revealed egregious examples of personal spending with campaign funds.
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.
The Union-Tribune reported last month that Hunter has been advocating for the U.S. Coast Guard to buy or lease a $150 million ship owned by one of his top contributors, Louisiana-based shipbuilder Edison Chouest Offshore. That ship, the Aiviq, made national news in 2012 when it suffered mechanical failures and lost control of an oil rig it was towing. The rig ran aground off the Alaskan coast.
Hunter secured a third loan on his Alpine home on Wednesday Nov. 3 to repay expenses that he said were erroneously charged to his campaign.
In April, a nonpartisan watchdog group cited thousands of dollars in personal expenditures — ranging from video games to a possible family vacation to Italy – that were spent using campaign funds for his reelection bid.
Hunter 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. Most of the FEC complaint charges occurred before that time.
Otherwise, Hunter’s main claim to Washington fame is his image as a fun guy.
Washingtonian magazine named Hunter “House Party Animal” of the year for 2014 in its annual survey of The Best and Worst in Congress published since 1986.
Hunter stunned many people by vaping during a congressional hearing in Washington in February. He was trying to block a ban on using e-cigarettes on airplanes.
“Yes, I vape,” Hunter said in an OP/ED piece he wrote for The Hill. “On occasion, I might even smoke a real cigarette…The FDA should wise up. And if their true goal is to reduce cigarette use, then imposing a prohibition of sorts on e-cigarettes is senseless.”
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.