California Congressman Duncan Hunter (R) has pled guilty to spending campaign funds on personal purchases such as buying games on Steam.
Hunter pled guilty in federal court yesterday to using campaign funds on everything from video games to taking his family and “one of his girlfriends” on various vacations.
During the proceedings, Hunter admitted to “knowingly and willfully” stealing “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in campaign funds that he and his wife used to maintain their lifestyle.
According to the plea agreement, the representative and his wife used $150,000 in campaign funds from 2010 through 2016 to purchase goods and services by making over 30 illegal transactions for personal use.
“Congressman Duncan D. Hunter violated the trust of his supporters by diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars they donated in good faith to his reelection campaign for personal expenditures,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney David Leshner. “This was not an accounting mistake by his campaign. This was a deliberate, years-long violation of the law.
“Congressman Hunter used the power of his position to fund a lifestyle out of his reach, unwittingly financed by those who put him there. His guilty plea entered today acknowledges and accepts responsibility for his conduct.”
Sentencing has yet to be handed down, but he and his wife could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The congressman first came under fire in 2016 when it was revealed he had spent $1,300 in campaign funds on Steam.
At the time, he claimed his son used the campaign credit card to purchase one game through the service, and all other transactions were unauthorized by him or his son.
The original story follows.
California Congressman Duncan Hunter (R) is being questioned by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over using campaign funds to buy $1,302 worth of games on Steam.
Known by many as the “vaping Congressman” due to getting his electronic smoke on during a session, Hunter claims his campaign’s credit card was used by his teenage son to purchase one game. After the game was purchased, he claims several unauthorized charges were made to the card.
Hunter said he is trying to get the unauthorized charges reversed before repaying his campaign account. The charges were listed on his 2015 financial breakdown as “personal expenses to be paid back.”
Whether the 68 different charges made from October 13 – December 16 were the result of the Steam account being hacked wasn’t noted, but it appears that way.
The Congressman’s spokesman, Joe Kasper, said these charges will not be paid back to the campaign fund “pending the outcome of the fraud investigation,” according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Campaign funds are not to be used for personal expenses, however, many politicians or those running for office will dip into the fund. While the US House Ethics Committee frowns upon such matters, as long as the funds are paid back, the FEC won’t come down on them like the wolf on the fold – as is the case here.
As the SDUT notes, Hunter has defended violent video games in the past after mass shootings pointed the finger at the medium. Via an opinion piece in Politico, he said the problem with regulating games conveyed “an image that America’s youth are incapable of discerning right from wrong, which simply is not true.”
Hunter said it’s parents’ obligation to curb violence in their children as “targeting video games as the problem is nothing more than a distraction from the broader challenges presented by improper parenting and far more obvious triggers of violence.”