BIG WHITE RABBIT STALKS HUNTER

 Easter has passed by, but the rabbit linked with Duncan Hunter’s political imbroglio is still hopping around in the investigation of the Congressman’s personal use of campaign funds. What a story for the news media to exploit right into the 2018 election.

A political consultant-adjunct professor at SDSU has set up a website and is connected to Facebook and Twitter with a political action committee called Bunny PAC. That outreach should spread the word about Hunter’s improper use of campaign donations and how the U.S. Department of Justice deals with a potential criminal act.

The big white bunny (remember the film “Harvey”?) is named Duncan Thumper and will be making appearances at political rallies and registration posts. Such a juicy spoof will keep reporters and political commentators themselves hopping during the campaign season.

Hunter is one of the few Republican representatives in San Diego County His five terms in Congress were virtually unopposed due to name recognition in his district. Hunter Sr. was a highly respected politician who represented his constituency from 1981-2009 and the San Diego area from 1981-2009 with reliability.

Son Duncan Jr, took his father’s seat in Congress and worked his way into two important Congressional committees that are notorious for connections to lobbyists with bags of money to buy influence: Armed Forces and Transportation and Infrastructure. Hunter Jr.’s campaign is 90% funded by contributions from the contractors who want that business. The rural district of Alpine does not have any such industries.

For the readers who are not familiar with the rabbit scam, here is a synopsis. The Federal Ethics Committee questioned some payments from Hunter’s campaign fund that appeared to be personal. The Congressman said “Oops, I used the wrong credit card” and promptly reimbursed the fund $62,000. The issue was more complicated because the improper charges were incorrectly identified, like trying to hide the personal nature.

At that point the Justice Department took over to determine if there was any criminal intent. So how did the bunny become headline news? When the Hunter family traveled to Italy last year where some of the campaign funds were incorrectly spent, the kids’ pet bunny flew on a $600 fare paid from the campaign fund. That caught the nation’s attention.

The latest disclosures of campaign funds under investigation are the $69,000 spent for attorney fees and the salary paid to Mrs. Hunter as campaign manager. There is no official precedent for family members to be paid by campaign funds. Since January 1, 2015, Mrs. Hunter was paid at least $78,000, according to media reports.

Hunter claims the attorney fees are for witnesses involved in the investigation, not for personal representation. Here’s another campaign expense subject to clarification.

Similar campaign-fund misuse was the case against Jesse Jackson, Jr. in 2013 that sent the Congressman and his wife to prison. Their scam made Hunter’s indiscretions look like small potatoes. The Jacksons plead guilty to $700,000 of personal use from campaign funds.

With such unfavorable publicity, I wonder what the political-fund donors think about how their money is spent. Buying the politicians’ support is the donors’ intent, so perhaps they don’t care how their candidate spends it.

In conclusion, the rabbit scam was not helped by a Hunter spokesman who said his boss wished the pet had never been put on a plane and had met another fate of being in the soup. Look out, here come the PETA people who have brought SeaWorld to its knees and closed the Ringling Bros. circus for cruelty to animals.

 

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