Politico has published a devastating article about Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter, based on more than a dozen interviews with lawmakers, congressional aides, former staffers, and sources close to a Justice Department investigation.
According to the account, Hunter had problems with alcohol and a predilection for what appear to be inappropriate relationships with a female staffer and lobbyists, in addition to growing suspicions that his financial misdeeds were more widespread than has already been reported.
The bottom line is this: while Hunter still has some fans in Washington, GOP insiders fear his legal and financial problems will cost the party what should be a safe seat in the House of Representatives. The deadline for filing to run in the 2018 elections is March 9. The timing of this story and the number of sources willing to come forward tells me party elders want Hunter gone.
The Politico article says the criminal investigation into Hunter is intensifying. Hunter’s parents, as well as a female lobbyist with whom many people close to the congressman believe he had a romantic relationship, have been subpoenaed by prosecutors.
While Hunter’s wife, Margaret, is at the center of the investigation into the misuse of campaign funds there appears to be an overlap with the spending sprees on personal items and the departure of his longtime chief of staff, Vicki Middleton in 2014.
Around that time, Hunter hired a young woman whom investigators have inquired about during their probe, sources familiar with the questioning said. Hunter promoted her from intern to full-time, a decision that perplexed staffers who said she frequently failed to show up for work and was hostile to co-workers.
POLITICO is not naming the woman because multiple attempts to reach her for comment were unsuccessful.
Former staffers to Hunter said the atmosphere grew toxic because of the woman, who would text with Hunter and sometimes accompany him to the Capitol Hill Club. Multiple aides complained about her attire, saying it was inappropriate for a work environment. Two aides kept a tally of how many days of work she had missed. The woman would also show up uninvited at Hunter’s campaign events, including one in San Diego.
In early 2016, the Congressman brought in an outside auditor to do an independent audit going back to the date that Margaret Hunter received her campaign credit card. He was expecting $20,000 in ‘mistakes,’ not the $60,000+ the review revealed.
Now the Justice department investigation is looking into thousands of dollars spent at the Capitol Hill Club on food and drink, and addition campaign expenditures.
- The name Geoffrey Hermanstorfer is listed on federal campaign reports as giving $2,300 to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, in 2008 and $500 to Rep. Darrell Issa in 2009.
- Hermanstorfer, of Maryland, told The San Diego Union-Tribune that he didn’t make either contribution.
- His ex-wife, Patricia Driscoll, is facing seven federal counts related to alleged personal spending of funds for a veterans charity that she ran. Hunter and Issa both supported the non-profit group’s efforts.
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