(KGTV) - Rep. Duncan Hunter, who pleaded not guilty to federal charges of misusing campaign funds, told Fox News that he did nothing wrong but reaffirmed that his wife Margaret was in charge of campaign and family finances.
In a Thursday interview that aired hours after his arraignment in a San Diego courtroom, Hunter told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum that he and his wife -- who also pleaded not guilty to charges -- are innocent but acknowledged that his campaign “did make mistakes.”
Prosecutors allege the Hunters used more than $250,000 in campaign funds to bankroll a lavish lifestyle and reported the purchases as campaign expenses.
MacCallum asked Hunter, “Did you call your wife and say you wanted a pair of Hawaii shorts but didn’t have the money, so she said you should buy the shorts and falsely claim they were golf balls for Wounded Warriors?”
Hunter replied, “I don’t remember that, but I wouldn’t do that. I’ve never used any campaign money to buy myself anything. What they’ve done is edit some of these text messages to make it different than they are. I can’t pull that message from five years ago. Just because somebody texted me, that doesn’t mean I had anything to do with what happened after that or did that.”
MacCallum then asked the Republican congressman, “You also said yesterday that your wife handled a lot of the family expenses and the campaign finances. So you’re saying it’s more her fault than your fault?”
“She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did, that’ll be looked at too, I’m sure. But I didn’t do it. I didn’t spend any money illegally. I did not use campaign money, especially for Wounded Warriors stuff, there’s no way,” Hunter responded.
Watch the interview:
Prosecutors said the Hunters’ personal accounts were in disarray, despite the San Diego congressman’s $174,000-per-year salary. Due to their “paycheck-to-paycheck” living, low bail amounts were set for the Hunters -- $15,000 for the congressman and $10,000 for his wife.
After his court appearance, Hunter sent a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan to request that he be removed from his committee assignments in Congress.
Team 10 investigator Jennifer Kastner reached out to Hunter's former campaign treasurer, Bruce Young, and attorney John Rice for comment, but both declined to take part in a full interview.
However, in a limited phone conversation, Rice told Kastner that Young "feels bad this happened" and "did what he had to do with the government." Rice said Young provided information to agents who investigated the case.
Rice also said Young was an unpaid volunteer who worked as a treasurer for Duncan Hunter Sr. before working for Hunter Jr. until about 2012.
Young met Hunter Sr. many years ago and believed in his cause and felt strongly that it was his duty to help, so he decided to volunteer his time, Rice said.