Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) appeared to shift blame to his wife for charges that they used more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, explaining in a television interview on Thursday night that she handled the family finances.
Hunter, a former Marine, said that when he went to Iraq in 2003 he gave his wife, Margaret, power of attorney and that she continued to manage his money during his congressional career.
“She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did, that’ll be looked at too, I’m sure,” Hunter said during an appearance on Fox News.
“But I didn’t do it,” Hunter told host Martha MacCallum. “I didn’t spend any money illegally.”
Hunter and his wife were charged Tuesday in a 47-page indictment that details how they allegedly used campaign money to live beyond their means, funding trips to Italy, Hawaii and other places, as well as school tuition, dental work and theater tickets.
The Justice Department said in a news release that the couple also allegedly spent tens of thousands of dollars on more modest items, such as golf outings, video games and even home utilities.
The couple pleaded not guilty on Thursday.
During his Fox appearance, Hunter argued that many of the trips in question were political fundraisers.
“That’s how we campaign and try to raise money is by traveling, having dinners, meeting people and raising more money,” he said. “That’s how people get to hear me and hear what I have to say, and they donate money.”
Hunter acknowledged that his campaign did make some mistakes — but said he did nothing wrong.
“There was money spent on things, not by me but by the campaign, and I paid that back before my last election,” he said. “I paid back $60,000 after I did an objective audit. This is pure politics.”