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By Miriam Raftery

January 11, 2018 (San Diego) – A federal grand jury has subpoenaed documents from a local business as part of a criminal investigation into Congressman Duncan Hunter’s campaign finances, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported yesterday.

The newspaper’s award-winning journalist Morgan  Cook reports that the grand jury will hear evidence and testimony from a witness also ordered to appear in San Diego later this month.  Potentially, the grand jury could issue one or more criminal indictments, casting a pall over Hunter’s effort to win a primary race in June and reelection to Congress in November.

The article does not identify the witness or the company named in the document, that a third party provided to the publication, but Cook indicates the Hunter’s campaign spent thousands of dollars at the business during the 2012 and 2014 election cycles.

Clues are provided, in the subpoena that ordered the company to provide documents including signed receipts, event contracts, reservation/booking details, information on guests, photographs, social media posts and all communications related to six specific transactions in 2012, including expenditures by Hunter, his wife and former campaign manager, Margaret, and his then campaign treasurer, Bruce Young.

Also requested were records dating back through 2009—long before the 2016 campaign cycle that prompted the U.S. Justice Department investigation into allegations that the Hunter campaign used campaign funds illegally for lavish personal expenses including a family vacation to Italy plane fare for a rabbit belonging to Hunter’s son, video games, oral surgeon bills, jewelry and tuition at his children’s school. Hunter has denied wrongdoing but did take out a loan to repay his campaign more than $60,000.

Ironically, Hunter recently made TV appearances in which he slammed the nation’s top law enforcement agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Justice Department for probes involving President Donald Trump campaigns ties to Russia as well as the investigation of Hunter’s campaign finances.

Hunter has suggested the Trump probe could be “illegal and even treasonous” despite the fact that special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump has already led to guilty pleas and indictments of several key Trump allies. 

George Papadopoulos, foreign policy advisor to Trump’s campaign, pled guilty to criminal charges pertaining to his dealings with Russian foreign nationals. Former National Security  Advisor and retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn pled guilty t to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about his back-channel talks with Russia’s ambassador Sergey Kislyak prior to Trump taking office in efforts to influence U.S. policies on sanctions against Russia and more.

Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his business associate  Rick Gates, have been arrested and indicted on felony charges including conspiracy against the U.S., failing to register as foreign agents, making false statements to federal investigators, fax fraud, and laundering  millions of dollars through offshore accounts for clients in the Ukraine,  including former Ukranian president Viktor Yanukovych, an ally of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

Rep. Hunter, in an interview aired on KUSI, called the Justice Department “biased” and complained about the length of time it was taking to resolve his case, noting “There’s no oversight, and they can ruin your life and take you down if they feel like it. In the KUSI interview, he added, “So, let’s just get it over with.”

Unless the Justice Department announces it has cleared Hunter by the primary, the investigation and specter of a possible criminal indictment could jeopardize the Republican’s control of the 50th Congressional district seat despite the heavy GOP tilt in what ordinarily would be considered a safe seat for the party. 

Two well-funded Democrats, ex-Navy Seal Josh Butner and former Obama administration official Ammar Campa-Najjar are vying for the seat. Several Republicans have also thrown their hats into the ring, including Sheriff commander Andrew Zelt, business owner Shamus Sayed, and attorney Joshua Schoonover. There is also speculation that Congressman Darrell Issa, who announced he will not seek reelection to his 49th district seat, may run in the 50th should Rep.Hunter resign, though thus far Hunter has said he has no intention of doing so.

ECM has reached out to Hunter’s deputy chief of staff, Michael Harrison, for comments for this story, but we have not received a reply as of press deadline.