cloudy.png
Tuesday March 31st, 2020 5:52PM

Judge: Rep. Duncan Hunter's trial can detail alleged affairs

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jurors can hear evidence of U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter's alleged extramarital affairs when they consider charges the California Republican looted campaign cash to finance vacations, golf outings and other personal expenses, a judge said Monday.

Prosecutors revealed salacious details about the married congressman's lifestyle in court filings last week, saying he used campaign money to illegally finance a string of romantic relationships with lobbyists and congressional aides.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan said the allegations were relevant to whether campaign money was spent illegally and spoke to motive and intent.

Hunter's attorney, Gregory Vega, argued that any mention of extramarital affairs and "personal indiscretions" would be "extremely prejudicial" at a trial set for September.

"I'm afraid that it will be the focus, instead of the evidence," Vega said.

The judge acknowledged that the allegations were sensitive. He said prosecutors and Hunter's team could agree on mutual terms to describe the relationships.

The judge was asked to determine if the value of testimony about Hunter's affairs outweighed any prejudice that jurors may have against the congressman. Shaun Martin, a law professor at University of San Diego who has followed the case, said the judge "got it right."

"The evidence about the affair will definitely make Hunter look bad to the jury, but it's also relevant," Martin wrote in an email. "Defendants sometimes commit crimes for unseemly reasons, but those reasons get introduced at trial. ... It's a bad day for Duncan Hunter."

Hunter's attorneys have suggested any expenses for alleged affairs had a professional purpose because the women were lobbyists and that the spending could be considered campaign-related. 

"The defense can argue to the jury that the expenses were legitimate payments to a lobbyist. But I wouldn't be surprised if a jury concluded that there were ulterior motives for payments to one's mistresses," Martin wrote. 

The judge, ruling on a flurry of procedural motions, didn't address Hunter's bid to dismiss charges or move the trial out of San Diego. Whelan said Hunter could keep speaking publicly about the case.

The Republican congressman, an early supporter of President Donald Trump, sat quietly next to his attorney during the hearing. Outside, about two dozen protesters surrounded and shouted at him on his short walk to a car with a waiting driver.

His father, former U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter Sr., told reporters that the charges were politically motivated. Attorneys for the congressman have argued that prosecutors tied to the case were at a Hillary Clinton fundraiser in August 2015 and tried to get a photo with the Democrat, compromising their impartiality.

The elder Hunter, who sat in the front row of the courtroom, gave reporters copies of an email from the U.S. Secret Service on how to get a photo taken with Clinton at the fundraiser. The email, part of a June 24 court filing, redacted the recipients' names but was a response to a Freedom of Information Act request for communications with two prosecutors involved in the case.

"This is the smoking gun," Hunter Sr. told reporters.

The government says the prosecutors attended the fundraiser in an official capacity to assist law enforcement.

Hunter and his wife were indicted in August on charges that they used more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses ranging from groceries to golf trips and family vacations, then lied about it in federal filings.

Margaret Hunter, who was not in court Monday, pleaded guilty last month to one corruption count and agreed to testify against her husband.

In an interview with Fox News last year, Hunter said his campaign made mistakes, that he gave his wife power of attorney when he deployed as a Marine to Iraq in 2003 and that she handled his finances during his last five terms in office.

Hunter, 42, was re-elected in his strongly Republican congressional district in San Diego County last year despite the indictment.

The Hunter name represents something of a political dynasty in the area — his father captured the seat in 1980 and held it until his son was elected in 2008.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Riot police clear away protests from Hong Kong legislature
Riot police have cleared away hundreds of protesters who swarmed into Hong Kong's legislature
4:48PM ( 2 minutes ago )
Former USC gynecologist pleads not guilty to sex assaults
The defense attorney for the former University of Southern California campus gynecologist charged with sexual assault says his client is suffering from heart problems and diabetes and should be allowed to post bail
4:47PM ( 3 minutes ago )
Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien pleads not guilty to assault
Former Super Bowl hero Mark Rypien pleads not guilty to domestic violence
4:42PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
2020 candidate Buttigieg says he raised $24M in 2nd quarter
Pete Buttigieg says he raised $24.8 million during the second fundraising quarter, a massive sum that cements him as a top White House contender despite entering the Democratic presidential primary as a little-known Indiana mayor
4:14PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Drowned father and daughter mourned at El Salvador cemetery
The bodies of a man and his young daughter who drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande into Texas have been laid to rest in their native El Salvador
3:55PM ( 55 minutes ago )
Gauff, just 15, shocks 5-time champ Venus, 39, at Wimbledon
15-year-old Coco Gauff stuns Venus Williams at Wimbledon
3:30PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Girl recalls poor care in Texas border station
A 12-year-old girl locked in a Texas border station with her little sister for 12 days tells her attorney on video obtained by The Associated Press that they were treated badly, slept on the floor, didn't have enough food and weren't allowed to bathe.
2:19PM ( 2 hours ago )
Hong Kong police clear protesters from legislature building
Hong Kong police carrying riot shields and firing tear gas have moved in to clear hundreds of pro-democracy protesters who had taken over the legislature's main building
1:50PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Police begin clearing Hong Kong legislature
Police in Hong Kong have used tear gas to clear a crowd of protesters gathered outside the city's legislature after several hundred broke into the building and spray-painted pro-democracy slogans on the walls of the main chamber
1:17PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Protesters take over Hong Kong's legislature
A group of protesters in Hong Kong has swarmed into the legislature building after breaking windows and prying open metal security curtains
9:54AM ( 6 hours ago )
Protests escalate as Hong Kong marks handover to China
A small group of protesters has broken into Hong Kong's legislature as tens of thousands marched through the city demanding democracy on the 22nd anniversary of the former British colony's return to China
9:33AM ( 7 hours ago )
The Latest: Protesters break into Hong Kong legislature
A group of protesters in Hong Kong has swarmed into the legislature building after breaking windows and prying open metal security curtains
9:19AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Harris lands 2020 endorsement from 2 Black Caucus members
Kamala Harris lands 2020 endorsements from2 more members of the Congressional Black Caucus
9:02AM ( 7 hours ago )
On edge: 2020 Dems face prospect of being cut from debates
End may be near for many 2020 Democrats as sorting process escalates
5:55AM ( 10 hours ago )
Rep. Hunter tells judge corruption case is political bias
A federal judge in San Diego is scheduled to consider a motion to toss out a corruption case against U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter
12:47AM ( 16 hours ago )
AP Elections
Breakout Dem debate performance nets Harris $2M in 24 hours
Kamala Harris reports that she raised $2 million in the 24 hours after her breakout performance during the Democratic debates
12:32PM ( 2 days ago )
Female candidates challenge electability question in debates
For months, white men have sat at the top of early Democratic presidential primary polls, but on the debate stage this past week, the half-dozen women in the field offered themselves up an alternative.
12:20PM ( 2 days ago )
Moderate 2020 Dems test if Biden stumbles provide opening
Joe Biden's debate stumbles may give hope to candidates who are promoting themselves as pragmatic, unifying politicians
12:16PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Riot police clear away protests from Hong Kong legislature
Riot police have cleared away hundreds of protesters who swarmed into Hong Kong's legislature
4:48PM ( 2 minutes ago )
Former USC gynecologist pleads not guilty to sex assaults
The defense attorney for the former University of Southern California campus gynecologist charged with sexual assault says his client is suffering from heart problems and diabetes and should be allowed to post bail
4:47PM ( 3 minutes ago )
OPEC extends oil production cuts amid weaker demand outlook
The oil producers' cartel, OPEC, is considering a six- to nine-month extension of its current deal to cut production amid weakening demand due to slowing global economic growth
4:42PM ( 8 minutes ago )
The Latest: Hong Kong leader condemns protest in legislature
Hong Kong's leader has condemned protesters who broke into the city's legislature and vandalized the building
4:36PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien pleads not guilty to assault
Former Super Bowl hero Mark Rypien pleads not guilty to domestic violence
4:24PM ( 26 minutes ago )