Duncan Hunter — the California Republican who admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to pay for personal expenditures like video games, vacations and airfare for his pet rabbits — will collect more than $10,000 in taxpayer funds by delaying his resignation from Congress until “after the holidays.”
Despite initially claiming the criminal investigation into his finances was a politically motivated “witch hunt,” that it was mainly his wife’s fault, but it was also a little bit his son’s fault, Hunter pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing campaign funds to support his luxurious lifestyle. When politicians admit to criminal wrongdoing, they often announce their resignation before or at the same time they announce they are guilty of crimes. Hunter, who is facing a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, waited three days before conceding that he would step down. And he’s not leaving before he can squeeze a few more paychecks out of American taxpayers.
Hunter will resign “shortly after the holidays,” he said Friday without specifying the exact date. His spokesman did not respond to calls and emails asking for the outgoing lawmaker’s last day in office. As a member of the House of Representatives, Hunter’s salary is $174,000, which is more than double the median household income of the district he represents in San Diego County.
Hunter’s salary breaks down to roughly $3,346 per week or $477 per calendar day. Let’s say he plans to leave Congress on Dec. 26, the most generous interpretation of “shortly after the holidays.” That means he will have “worked” 23 days after pleading guilty to stealing campaign funds, earning about $10,964. If Hunter includes New Year’s Day as part of “the holidays” — which the tequila shot enthusiast almost certainly does — he will rake in about $14,301 from taxpayers.
There is no reason for Hunter to remain in Congress other than to collect a paycheck for doing nothing and to complicate the process to replace him. The House Ethics Committee told him last week to stop voting, in accordance with House rules. But it’s not surprising that Hunter would stick around to cash a few extra paychecks. Even before he admitted to stealing from his donors, Hunter was not exactly a model statesman.
Before he became famous for aggressively vaping, Hunter authored legislation like the Setting New Priorities in Education Spending Act, a bill that, if passed, would have eliminated education programs that provided books to poor students. The programs, Hunter said at the time, were “wasteful” and “ineffective.”
The Marine veteran, who has touted his pro-troop bona fides, has posed for a picture with the corpse of an enemy combatant — an admission he made while defending accused war criminal Eddie Gallagher. Friend-of-the-troops Hunter also instructed his wife to buy his “Hawaii shorts” at a pro golf shop so that when they paid for his vacation attire with campaign funds, he could claim the purchase was for golf balls for a wounded warrior event, according to the indictment against Hunter.
When he wasn’t spending his campaign donations on personal comforts, Hunter funneled campaign money into racist ads against his 2018 Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar. The ads falsely described Campa-Najjar, a church-going Christian, as a “radical Muslim” “trying to infiltrate the U.S. government” and referenced the Democratic candidate’s paternal grandfather, a member of a Palestinian terrorist group who died 16 years before Campa-Najjar was born.