Rep. Duncan Hunter surprised many when he was able to secure reelection after being hit with major corruption charges. His wife has already pleaded guilty in a case involving such allegations as spending campaign funds on lavish dinners, private school for their children, and most notably plane tickets for their pet rabbit. Now Hunter has lost a major motion after U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan ruled that evidence of his extramarital affairs can be raised in his corruption trial. It was the correct ruling and makes an already tough corruption trial into a perfect nightmare for defense counsel.
Many people were critical when Hunter followed his father into Congress due to the image of a seat passing by a modern version of primogeniture. Those complaints about entitlement increased after Hunter was then hit with these corruption charges. Prosecutors maintained that he used some of the money in his affairs with lobbyists and congressional aides. That is a legitimate theory for prosecution and Whelan ruled they could put the affairs before the jury.
So a jury will now have a record including tickets for family rabbits and gold outings as well as lavish spending of affairs with lobbyists. The defense counsel was right that such allegations are “extremely prejudicial” but you are not protected from highly prejudicial material facts. You sometimes have to live with the record that you create in your life.
Notably, his father, the former congressman, is attending the trial and insisting that this is all political. However, his daughter-in-law is now under oath saying that she did misuse the campaign funds. There is over a quarter of million dollars of funds being raised by the prosecution and Hunter is simply arguing that there were mistakes made in the use of different accounts. When placed in the context of high living and habitual affairs, he is likely to find a less than sympathetic jury.