Attorneys for embattled Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter slammed prosecutors for submitting a court filing earlier this week with allegations that the California congressman used campaign funds to sustain extramarital affairs, saying they were made to “publicly embarrass Mr. Hunter with evidence that reflects poorly on his character.”
“The allegations in the Motion are so controversial and prejudicial that merely filing the Motion has tainted the jury pool against Mr. Hunter based on the salacious allegations,” Hunter’s attorneys wrote Friday.
Federal prosecutors on Monday laid out details of five extramarital affairs that Hunter allegedly had with congressional staffers and lobbyists as they sought to win the court’s approval to submit the evidence at trial in September. Hunter is charged with campaign finance violations and prosecutors say the affairs are supporting evidence of his use of the funds for personal — not professional — gain.
In their response, Hunter’s lawyers wrote that any relevance the details of the affairs had on his alleged crimes was outweighed by their “prejudicial impact” on a jury, and argued that the congressman’s relationships with the five women in fact “served an overtly political purpose.”
“However unpopular the notion of a married man mixing business with pleasure, the Government cannot simply dismiss the reality that Mr. Hunter’s relationships with Individual’s 14-18 often served an overtly political purpose that would not have existed irrespective of his occupation,” Hunter’s attorneys wrote.
Both sides are due back in court Monday.
Hunter earlier this week did not respond to a request for comment sent to his congressional office. Pressed on the allegations by Politico, he accused prosecutors of political bias.
“You have criminally political prosecutors in this case on a personal smear campaign,” he told Politico. “This is the most political case in the world.”
Both Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted in 2018 for routinely using campaign funds for personal expenses, bills and luxury family vacations.
Hunter agreed to step down from his congressional committee assignments, though he later went on to win reelection.
Earlier this month, Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty to conspiring with her husband to “knowingly and willingly” convert more than $200,000 in campaign funds for personal use. She has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Both Hunters previously pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.
Margaret Hunter is set to be sentenced on September 16 and faces a maximum of five years in jail.
Prosecutors said Monday that Margaret Hunter may testify at the trial about her and her husband’s allegedly illegal spending.