Duncan D. Hunter
|Member of the|
U.S. House of Representatives
January 3, 2009
|Constituency||52nd district (2009-2013)|
50th district (2013-present)
Duncan Duane Hunter
December 7, 1976
San Diego, California, U.S.
Margaret Jankowski (m. 1998)
|Education||San Diego State University (BS)|
|Branch/service||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||2001-2005 (active)|
|Unit||1st Battalion, 11th Marines|
|Battles/wars||War in Afghanistan|
Duncan Duane Hunter (born December 7, 1976) is an American politician currently serving as the U.S. Representative for California's 50th congressional district. He is a member of the Republican Party, and was first elected to the House in 2008. This district, numbered as the 52nd from 2009 to 2013, covers much of northern and inland San Diego County, including the cities of El Cajon, Escondido, San Marcos, Santee and Temecula. He served in the U.S. Marines from 2001 through 2005 and succeeded his father, Republican Duncan Lee Hunter, a member of Congress from 1981 to 2009.
In 2017, the Department of Justice began a criminal investigation of Hunter for alleged campaign finance violations. In August 2018, Hunter and his wife were indicted on charges including conspiracy, wire fraud, and violating campaign finance laws. In June 2019, his wife pleaded guilty to corruption and named him as a co-conspirator in using campaign funds for personal expenses. Also that month, federal prosecutors alleged that from 2009 to 2016, Hunter had spent campaign funds on extramarital affairs with five women including lobbyists and congressional staff.
Hunter was born in San Diego, California, the son of Helynn Louise (née Layh) and Duncan Lee Hunter. He graduated from Granite Hills High School in El Cajon, California, and San Diego State University, where he earned a degree in information systems in 2001. During college, Hunter started a web design company. After graduation, he worked in San Diego as an information technology business analyst.
After the September 11 attacks, Hunter joined the United States Marine Corps. He attended Officer Candidates School at Marine Corps Base Quantico; when he graduated in March 2002, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant. He subsequently served as a field artillery officer in the 1st Marine Division after the 2003 invasion of Iraq and completed a second tour in Fallujah, Iraq, in 2004, serving in Battery A, 1st Battalion, 11th Marines. During his second tour, he participated in Operation Vigilant Resolve, where he fought in battles in Fallujah.
In September 2005, Hunter was honorably discharged from active duty. After his 2005 discharge he started a residential development company. In 2007, he was recalled to active duty and deployed to Afghanistan. He was promoted to captain during his wartime deployments as an artillery officer in 2006 and to major in 2012. According to an August 2018 report in Politico, Hunter still experiences the trauma of his wartime deployments as an artillery officer in Afghanistan and Iraq. According to Military Times, Hunter remained in the Marine Corps Reserve until 2017.
On March 20, 2007, Hunter's father, Duncan Lee Hunter, announced that as part of his presidential bid he would not seek re-election to the House of Representatives in 2008, retiring from Congress after fourteen terms.
After Hunter announced his candidacy for his father's seat, he was recalled by the United States Marine Corps to serve in the Afghanistan. On June 3, 2008, Hunter won the Republican primary with 72% of the vote in a four-candidate field and became the Republican nominee to replace his father, representing the 52nd District.
In the general election, Hunter defeated Democratic nominee Mike Lumpkin, 56%-39%. Hunter became the first combat veteran of either Iraq or Afghanistan to serve in the U.S. Congress; moreover he was the first Marine to be elected to see combat in both conflicts.
Hunter won re-election to a second term with 63% of the vote, defeating Democrat Ray Lutz and Libertarian Michael Benoit.
In the five-candidate open primary in 2012, Hunter ranked first with 67% of the vote; Democratic nominee David Secor ranked second with 17% of the vote. In the general election, Hunter defeated Secor 68%-32%.
In the primary election, Hunter finished first with 62,371 votes (70%) to Democrat James H. Kimber's 21,552 (24%). In the general election, Hunter defeated Kimber by 111,997 votes (71%) to 45,302 (29%).
In the primary election, Hunter took 56.5% of the vote against four opponents. In the general election, he defeated Democrat Patrick Malloy, 63.9% to 36.1%.
Several Democrats challenged Hunter, including Ammar Campa-Najjar and Josh Butner. Hunter was also challenged by the Republican Mayor of El Cajon, Bill Wells. In the jungle primary, Hunter received the most votes at 47.4%, followed by Campa-Najjar at 17.6%. The two faced off in the November general election.
During Hunter's 2018 re-election campaign, he repeatedly attacked his Democratic opponent Campa-Najjar over his half-Palestinian heritage. He claimed that Campa-Najjar, a Christian, was an "Islamist" trying to "infiltrate Congress", describing him as a "security threat" with terrorist ties.The Washington Post fact-checker wrote that an October 1, 2018 television ad used "naked anti-Muslim bias" and sought to scare Californians from voting for Campa-Najjar, despite the fact that Campa Najjar "isn't even Muslim. All the claims in the ad are false, misleading or devoid of evidence." Hunter also claimed that Campa-Najjar was being supported by CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood; PolitiFact found this to be false. CNN, The Guardian, Buzzfeed News and The Daily Beast described Hunter's campaign as "anti-Muslim",Vox described it as "race-baiting", and The Atlantic called it "one of the most brazenly anti-Muslim smear campaigns in recent history." After Hunter's attacks on Campa-Najjar were widely condemned, Hunter doubled down on the attacks in a direct mail letter written and signed by three defense industry lobbyists, characterizing Campa-Najjar as a national security risk. Campa-Najjar described Hunter's attacks as "pathological."
Hunter ultimately won with 51.7% of the vote, the closest race in the district since his father's initial run for what was then the 42nd District in 1980, when he unseated longtime Democratic incumbent Lionel Van Deerlin with 53 percent of the vote. In the four decades since then, a Democrat had only managed more than 40 percent of the vote in 1992, when the elder Hunter was held to 52.8 percent of the vote.
In October 2013 Hunter was the only representative from San Diego County to vote against the bill ending the nation's 16-day partial government shutdown, explaining that he voted against it because it did not reduce spending or the national debt.
Hunter was an early supporter of Donald Trump, endorsing him in February 2016 in the earliest days of the Republican primary. He was the second member of Congress to support him. According to anonymous sources, during an address to Riverside County Young Republicans in late August 2017, Hunter said of President Donald Trump, "He's just like he is on TV ... He's an asshole, but he's our asshole."
At a town-hall-style meeting in March 2017, Hunter was confronted by protesters. Before the crowd, Hunter asserted that the American intelligence community was filled with "seditious Obama folks" who "hate Donald Trump as much as you [those at the meeting] do" and are trying to undermine the Trump administration. He also described the American government as "Orwellian".
In April 2019, he pretended to cross the Mexico-United States border to show how easy it was for immigrants to enter into the country; this came to light after it was pointed out by his Democratic challenger, Ammar Campa-Najjar, that actually leaving the country would violate his parole after his indictment on illegal spending of campaign funds. In the video Hunter says he is at "the grand border wall in Yuma, Arizona," while standing next to a waist high barrier near the border. Hunter indicated that this small barrier was in fact the border wall and elaborated that "This is what we expect to stop people, transnational terrorists, families, all illegal aliens from coming across the border. This is it." He then proceeded to step over the wall and declare "There you go. That's how easy it is to cross the border in Yuma, Arizona." The Border Patrol released a statement correcting Hunter's false claims and said that the "border wall" was actually a vehicle barrier 70-100 ft from the actual border which follows the Colorado River. Hunter had asked to stop at the barrier while on a courtesy ride along.
On July 19, 2019 it was revealed that the Marine Corps had sent a cease and desist letter to Hunter, ordering him to immediately stop using the Marine Corps logo and a Corps motto on political mailers to constituents. A spokesman explained, "The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor is a trademark of the Marine Corps protected by Federal law. In accordance with 10 U.S. Code § 7881, the seal and emblem should not be used in conjunction with any political activities." The referenced mailer was a racially charged attack on his Democratic opponent and on two Muslim congresswomen, attempting to link them to terrorism.
Hunter favors repealing the Affordable Care Act and voted in support of a budget resolution to repeal it in January 2017. He expressed support for all drafts of the AHCA, which would partially repeal and replace Obamacare, and voted for the AHCA on May 4, 2017. About the AHCA he said, "this is going to save America."
Hunter opposed the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, saying that it would "take away" the doctor-patient relationship and the right for people to choose "what type of operations they have", and that it would allow a "government bureaucrat" to make health care decisions for people. In the KPBS interview, Hunter said, "Things that you have problems with now would be exacerbated if you had government-run healthcare."
Hunter does not believe climate change is caused by humans, and believes it may actually be positive. He has said about climate change, "Nobody really knows the cause ... It could be caused by carbon dioxide or methane. Maybe we should kill the cows to stop the methane, or stop breathing to stop the CO2 ... Thousands of people die every year of cold, so if we had global warming it would save lives ... We ought to look out for people. The earth can take care of itself."
Hunter does not believe the EPA should be allowed to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and has consistently voted against any governmental limits to CO2 pollution. He would like to open up oil drilling in the United States in order to bring down gas prices.
In a 2009 interview with KPBS, Hunter expressed support for "overriding" the designation of the delta smelt as an endangered species, saying that overriding it would reduce unemployment in California.
War and military affairs
In a 2011 op-ed in Politico, Hunter opposed a complete withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, because of "unreliable Afghan leadership"; he accused the Obama administration of "echoing a misshapen worldview that puts American interests last". In October 2012, Hunter returned from a visit to Afghanistan, as part of a congressional delegation, with a more upbeat assessment, stating "Frankly I was very skeptical last year when I went last, and have been, on whether [the Afghans] can do this, but they are."
In December 2013, Hunter said that if a U.S. war with Iran becomes inevitable, which he "sure as hell" hoped wouldn't happen, the American response should be a "massive aerial bombing campaign" including "tactical nuclear devices". He also said that the culture of Middle Easterners made them unreliable negotiating partners.
In 2013, Hunter called for the United States to train and arm Syrian rebels and said that President Obama would be breaking the law if he bombed Syria without a Congressional mandate, and that bombing should be considered an impeachable offense. In September 2014, however, Hunter voted against a proposal to train and arm Syrian rebels fighting against ISIL extremists, saying that the proposal failed to go far enough.
Columnist Dan Murtaugh of the Press-Register has suggested that Hunter's 2011 call to rebid the littoral combat ship program is an attempt to get federal funds for a shipyard in his district. Hunter turned again to the LCS program in 2012, with a call to reduce LCS builds in favor of amphibious ships, because he had read a report that the Marines had leased a ferry with similar characteristics to the LCS and the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV). In 2013 Hunter said the United States Navy was overworked and spread thin, and said that a "306-ship target might represent the absolute minimum capacity the navy needs".
He has called for the system of awarding the Medal of Honor to be reevaluated, due to the cases of Sergeant Rafael Peralta and Captain William D. Swenson. Even after Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel became the third Secretary to deny the award to Peralta, Hunter maintained his pressure on the Pentagon. In late March 2014, he sent a letter asking the Pentagon to reevaluate Peralta's case, as well as the case of Bradley Kasal, who used his body to shield a fellow Marine from a grenade blast in Iraq in 2004. In 2017, Hunter continued his effort to have Peralta's Navy Cross elevated. In 2018, Hunter requested a review of the awarding of the Silver Star to Marine 1st Lieutenant Travis Manion, who was originally recommended for the Navy Cross.
Hunter has been supporter of certain service members who have been accused or convicted for criminal actions. Hunter has been a strong supporter of Major Mathew Golsteyn, a former Green Beret charged with murder. Hunter drafted a letter to Trump, asking him to give his personal attention to Golsteyn's case. The congressman along with other lawmakers have sought presidential help in the case of Chief Special Warfare Operator Eddie Gallagher who is set to stand trial in a San Diego military court for similar offenses. Hunter wrote letters to both Obama and Trump, asking them to consider giving a presidential pardon or leniency to Lieutenant Clint Lorance, a platoon commander in Afghanistan, who was convicted of murder for ordering his troops to fire on Afghans who turned out to be unarmed civilians. Hunter worked with Lieutenant Colonel Jason Amerine, who testified to Congress criticizing the Pentagon for failing to mount missions to rescue Taliban hostages; Following his testimony the Federal Bureau of Investigation opened an inquiry into whether Amerine had divulged classified information to Hunter, Amerine later testified to a Congressional committee looking into whether the military retaliates against whistle blowers. In May 2019 during an attempt to defend Eddie Gallagher at a town hall meeting, Hunter claimed that he too had posed for photos with a dead enemy combatant while deployed, and called the military justice system "corrupt." In an interview Hunter claimed he had probably killed "hundreds" of civilians while serving as an artillery officer in Iraq, adding "So, do I get judged too?"
Hunter opposes women in combat and, to make a rhetorical point, in 2016 he introduced an amendment to the defense authorization act to require 18-to-26-year-old women to register for the Selective Service System (as 18-to-26-year-old men are required to do). This backfired, however, as the House Armed Services Committee voted 32-30 to adopt the amendment.
He supported the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which restricted federal recognition of marriage to opposite-sex couples only, and cut off federal benefits to same-sex couples. He voted to delay the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which barred gays and lesbians from serving openly in the United States military. In 2011, Hunter advocated for delaying the implementation of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010, which was signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama. In 2011, Hunter introduced legislation to require that all "four military service chiefs certify that the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell won't negatively affect their combat units".
On the question of transgender military personnel, Hunter said that as a Marine Corps veteran, he could not imagine sharing a shower with "somebody who was a girl and didn't have the surgery to become a man but kept the girl stuff".
Hunter is anti-abortion and believes life begins at conception. He has consistently voted against all forms of abortion, as well as cloning and embryonic stem cell research. In 2017 he introduced a bill to give fetuses 14th Amendment protections. Hunter voted to ban the "morning after" pill in the case of rape or incest, and would like to ban IUDs.
At an April 2010 Tea Party movement rally in Ramona, California, Hunter advocated for the deportation of United States citizens who are the children of illegal immigrants. At the rally, Hunter said, "It's a complex issue and ... you could look and say, 'You're a mean guy. That's a mean thing to do. That's not a humanitarian thing to do' ... We simply cannot afford what we're doing right now. We just can't afford it. California's going under." He confirmed the comments to San Diego County's North County Times, telling the newspaper that he supported House Resolution 1868, a measure that called for the elimination of birthright citizenship in the United States. He expressed support for the controversial 2010 Arizona immigration law, calling it a national security issue and "a fantastic starting point".
After a reporter from The Guardian was assaulted by Republican Representative Greg Gianforte from Montana, Hunter's response was published in several newspapers. In response to questions about the AHCA's effect on those with pre-existing conditions, Gianforte put his hands around the reporter's neck and "body slammed" him to the ground, injuring his elbow and breaking his glasses. Hunter commented: "It's not appropriate behavior. Unless the reporter deserved it."
Hunter is an advocate of tobacco products. He uses an e-cigarette and opposes the banning of e-cigarettes on airplanes. Hunter puffed on his e-cigarette during a congressional hearing about vaping.
In July 2010, Hunter introduced legislation into the 111th Congress to allow tobacco products to be shipped to service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan; the legislation died after being referred to committee. In 2014, Hunter moved to block a plan by the military to ban sales of tobacco products on bases and ships.
In April 2016, Hunter came under scrutiny from the Federal Elections Commission regarding his use of campaign funds for personal expenses from 2015 to 2016, after Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed an ethics complaint.
In August 2016, the Office of Congressional Ethics made a recommendation to the Ethics Committee for a full investigation into Hunter. Hunter and his wife, Margaret, who was being paid $3,000 monthly from campaign funds in her role as campaign manager, shared a campaign fund credit card which had charges which were questioned. The expenses included $1,302 in charges for video games, $600 to pay for a family rabbit to travel by plane, clothing from Abercrombie & Fitch, a donation to their son's school, payments to an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, travel costs including 32 payments for airfare, hotel stays in Arizona and Italy, groceries, a nail salon visit, tuition, non-specified items at a surf shop, and outdoor equipment.
In February 2017, Hunter's campaign offices were raided by the FBI as part of a criminal investigation. Agents seized computers, other electronics, and financial records; they also seized a hard drive from Election CFO, an Alexandria, Virginia-based company that handled campaign finances on Hunter's behalf. The raid was not reported in the media until August 2017, after court documents intended to be filed under seal were accidentally released to the public.
On March 23, 2017, the House Ethics Committee revealed that Hunter was under a Department of Justice criminal investigation for alleged campaign finance violations, and that it was deferring its own investigation as a result. The Office of Congressional Ethics report stated: "Rep. Hunter may have converted tens of thousands of dollars of campaign funds from his congressional campaign committee to personal use to pay for family travel, flights, utilities, health care, school uniforms, and tuition, jewelry, groceries, and other goods, services, and expenses." Hunter said that he repaid the money to the campaign, and denied wrongdoing. He also announced that his wife would no longer receive a $3000 per month salary for consulting the campaign. His lawyers Gregory Vega and Elliot Berkewas said that any improper use of campaign funds was "inadvertent and unintentional". In March 2017, in a statement issued through his lawyers, Hunter said that he had repaid his campaign approximately $60,000 in 2016. In April 2017, Hunter returned from international travel in order to address issues around his campaign funds, promising to correct any inappropriate or mistaken charges.
On August 21, 2018, a federal grand jury of the United States District Court for the Southern District of California indicted Hunter and his wife on 60 counts of wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations, and conspiracy. The San Diego U.S. Attorney's Office accused the couple of conspiring to misuse $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, as well as filing false campaign finance reports. Personal expenses charged to the campaign included vacations in Italy and Hawaii, theater tickets, and purchases in the gaming platform Steam. The indictment says that when Hunter wanted to buy some shorts for himself, his wife suggested that he falsely report the purchase as "golf balls for wounded warriors". On another occasion he tried unsuccessfully to arrange a tour of a Navy base as a cover for a family vacation trip to Italy. When the Navy couldn't arrange something on the date Hunter wanted, Hunter told his chief of staff to "tell the Navy to go fuck themselves." The indictment also alleges that Hunter spent campaign money on "personal relationships" with five women in Washington DC, listed as Individuals 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18 in the indictment. The women were said to have included lobbyists and one of his own congressional staffers. "Throughout the relevant period, the Hunters spent substantially more than they earned," according to the indictment. "They overdrew their bank account more than 1,100 times in a seven-year period, resulting in approximately $37,761 in 'overdraft' and 'insufficient funds' bank fees."
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called the charges against Hunter "deeply serious" and indicated that he would be stripped of his committee assignments pending a resolution of those charges. At first, Hunter refused to leave his committees voluntarily; however, following reports that the Republican Steering Committee was planning to forcibly remove his committee assignments, Hunter reversed course and agreed to step down from his committees.The San Diego Union Tribune, Hunter's hometown paper, published an editorial calling for him to resign from Congress. Hunter's father, the former congressman, attacked the indictment as a "late hit" and claimed it was politically motivated. Hunter himself insisted that he never used campaign funds for personal expenses and that the indictment was a "witch hunt" carried out by "partisan Democrat prosecutors" and the "deep state". The Union-Tribune pointed out that the local U.S. Attorney's office is led by Adam L. Braverman, a Trump administration appointee.
On August 23, 2018, both Hunter and his wife pleaded not guilty to all charges. The two entered and left the courtroom separately and were represented by separate counsel. Hunter has suggested his wife is to blame for any irregularities, saying that she handled all their personal and campaign finances and adding, "I didn't do it. I didn't spend any money illegally." On June 13, 2019, Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty to one corruption count. She acknowledged that she had conspired with Duncan to spend over $200,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses. She agreed to give testimony and cooperate with the prosecution. The plea agreement could send her to prison for up to five years.
On June 24, 2019, federal prosecutors submitted a court filing alleging that Hunter used his campaign funds for extramarital affairs with five women, including lobbyists and congressional aides, between 2009 and 2016.
Hunter married Margaret Jankowski in 1998. They have three children. In 2016, Hunter sold his home in Alpine, California, and used part of the proceeds to repay his political campaign for some of the money he had spent on personal expenses. He and his family moved in with his father, Duncan L. Hunter.
Still a marine reservist, he was promoted to captain in 2006, and to major in 2012.
Temecula is home to a number of marines stationed at Camp Pendleton, and Hunter is a major in the Marine Corps Reserve who served two tours in Iraq and another in Afghanistan.
Hunter serves in the Marine Corps Reserve and was promoted to the rank of major in 2012.
Hunter joined the Marine Corps following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and served as an artillery officer in Iraq and Afghanistan. He served in both Congress and the Marine Corps Reserves until last year.
Hunter, then 30, won the campaign, becoming the first Marine elected to Congress who had seen combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
A congressman sided with Maj Golsteyn, writing a letter to the secretary of the US Army to complain about the investigation.
Lorance, now 30, is serving a 19-year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, but his case is far from over. Across the nation, thousands are rallying in hopes the baby-faced soldier can regain his freedom. They see him as a patriot, unfairly punished for actions taken to protect his fellow soldiers.
Trump was asked about Lorance's case during a Jan. 26 interview with conservative TV commentator Sean Hannity and said only that, "We're looking at a few of them." If the president agrees to Hunter's request, he will be opening a murky and emotionally charged criminal case.
The Defense Department Inspector General closed its reprisal investigation against the Army without finding that the service took any illegal unfavorable actions against Lt. Col. Jason Amerine, a decorated war hero who testified before Congress that the U.S. government had "failed" hostages held overseas.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 52nd congressional district
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 50th congressional district
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Representatives by seniority