Former GOP lawmaker pardoned by Trump hit with campaign finance fines

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Former Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, who was pardoned by former President Donald Trump in 2020, has agreed to pay a Federal Election Commission fine for embezzlement of campaign funds.

Hunter and his wife Margaret Hunter, his former campaign manager, said they would pay $12,000 ‘solely for the purpose of settling this matter only and without admitting liability’, according to a FEC Document made public this week.

Hunter’s campaign committee agreed to pay another $4,000 fine.

The FEC said that due to its campaign’s “lack of financial resources”, the agency was seeking a smaller fine than usual, noting that it would typically seek a “significantly higher civil penalty” of $133,000. depending on violations.

An October 2021 quarterly report found Hunter’s campaign had $14,000 in cash and about $40,000 in outstanding debt, the FEC said, and the campaign appeared unable to raise additional funds.

In 2019, federal prosecutors said Hunter and his wife ‘converted and stole’ more than $250,000 using campaign money used for purchases such as family trips to Hawaii and Italy, rides on a plane for relatives and their pet rabbit, and even $1,500 for video games. Hunter also used campaign money to pay for romantic flings with lobbyists and congressional aides, prosecutors said.

The couple claimed that many of the alleged violations were “attributable to the nature of a close-knit family campaign” and that many of the personal disbursements were reimbursed, according to a signed agreement with the FEC.

NBC News has requested comment from the attorney representing Hunter’s campaign committee.

Hunter pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds in December 2019 and resigned his House seat a month later after serving more than a decade in Congress. He was then sentenced to 11 months in prison.

His wife pleaded guilty in 2019 to conspiracy to misuse campaign funds and was expected to testify against her husband of more than 20 years if the case goes to trial.

But as Trump neared the end of his presidency, he issued a wave of pardons and offered Hunter and his wife a “full and unconditional” pardon for their criminal convictions.

A 2021 report of the FEC’s general counsel, however, raised doubts about whether Trump’s pardon extended to civil offenses, arguing that the former president “limited the text of the Hunters’ pardons specifically to the criminal case. “, which paved the way for the recent fines.

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