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Congressman Pleads Guilty to Using Campaign Funds for Rabbit Travel

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Let me be clear: U.S. Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-CA, for now) did not plead guilty only to using campaign funds for rabbit travel. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds, which was only one of the 60 counts in his indictment. But the rabbit travel was one of the 200 overt acts alleged in that count:


This was a rabbit. As previously discussed—back when Hunter was adamantly denying the charges and saying prosecutors were engaged in a Trump-related “witch hunt”—Hunter’s own spokesman admitted that records showed campaign funds had indeed been spent for “in-cabin rabbit-transport fees” (hyphens added; unbearable otherwise). See Campaign Funds Used for Rabbit Travel” (Aug. 27, 2018). This is not something a spokesman makes up. I therefore felt and still feel comfortable saying that the “family pet” mentioned in Overt Act #98 was, in fact, a rabbit, as had been reported elsewhere.

Now, Hunter’s plea agreement does not specifically mention the rabbit. Technically, on paper, he admitted to only two of the alleged overt acts: spending $511 in campaign funds for a “family celebration” in 2011 (#43), and $409 for “a social outing with several of his closest friends” in 2016 (#191). So is it accurate to say that he “pleaded guilty to” the other 198 alleged overt acts? Which, by the way, included but were not limited to:

  • $351 to rent a car for a “personal ski trip with Individual 14” (#2);
  • $1008 for expenses during said ski trip (#3);
  • $704 for 12 tickets to “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (#19);
  • $142 to have Men’s Wearhouse “re-cut” two pairs of pants (#32);
  • $162 for a night at the Liaison Hotel with Individual 14 (#33);
  • $1,400 in expenses for a family member’s dance competition (#46–48);
  • $10,000 for a family vacation in 2012 (#59);
  • $59 for a pair of Under Armour shorts (#67);
  • $36 for Uber rides to the residence of Individual 15 (#83);
  • $2,217 to pay for a family trip to see a Steelers game (#89);
  • $3,166 for cable TV (ten payments) (#95);
  • $399 for zipline rides (#99);
  • $1,528 via Steam for 82 video games (#113);
  • $6,289 for a family vacation in Hawaii (#119);
  • $995 to fly his mother-in-law and her boyfriend to Warsaw (#121);
  • Again, $995 to fly his mother-in-law and her boyfriend to Warsaw, Poland (#121);
  • $203 for dinner with a group including Individual 16 (#124);
  • $14,261 for a family vacation to Italy (#156);
  • $835 for family tickets to see “Riverdance” (#162);
  • $815 for a bachelor party (#171–72);
  • $1,200 for a garage door (#177); and, of course,
  • $250 for rabbit travel.

Did he “plead guilty to” all these? One might argue the answer is no, because the plea agreement only mentions two specific acts, and many of the expenditures were actually made by Hunter’s wife and co-conspirator, Margaret. But another might argue the answer is yes. This was a conspiracy count, meaning each co-conspirator is responsible for all acts in furtherance of the conspiracy even if he or she didn’t personally do them. And unless Hunter breaches the plea agreement, he can’t be prosecuted for any of the charges in the indictment, so I assume he would (if necessary) take the position that all the acts are included. The plea agreement certainly doesn’t deny responsibility for any of them, I assume partly for this reason.

I don’t know (yet) which of those two people would be right, but until told otherwise I’m going with the second.

As for why Hunter changed his position now after denying guilt for so long, the Washington Post notes that his “legal situation” had “become more precarious in recent months.” That’s because wife and co-conspirator Margaret pleaded guilty in June, agreeing as part of the deal to testify against Duncan. Why’d she do that? Well, guilt is one explanation. But her decision was probably made much easier by learning about Individuals 14, 15, and 16 (see above), as well as Individuals 17 and 18, also mentioned in the indictment. Because all of those individuals were female, and none of them were Margaret Hunter.

So that might have something to do with it.

The Liaison Hotel. Seriously.

Anyway, when he announced yesterday that he was changing his plea to guilty, Hunter said there were “three reasons” for that, “and those three reasons are my kids.” (Sparing them the need to see Dad on trial, that is.) Those are three good reasons, no doubt, but they’re hardly the only ones. In the interview, Hunter unsurprisingly minimized the extent of his wrongdoing, saying he had “made mistakes” but that there was “no taxpayer money involved.” Except for the taxpayers who thought they were contributing to his campaign, presumably, and not buying him shorts or picking up the tab for two or three or five extramarital affairs or flying his rabbit across the country.

“Life throws challenges at ya,” Hunter said of the experience, with a straight face, apparently referring to the challenge of trying not to break the law literally hundreds of times by using campaign funds for personal expenses.

I should mention that like former Rep. Chris Collins—who also complained of a witch hunt (see “‘Dumbest Insider-Trading Crime I’ve Ever Seen’ Was Pretty Dumb” (Aug. 9, 2018)) only to later plead guilty—and like several other politicians of both parties, Hunter ran for re-election while under indictment and won. See Assorted Election Stupidity” (Nov. 8, 2018). Collins said he wouldn’t resign, but then he did. Hunter hasn’t said whether he’ll resign, but he almost certainly will. See “Can a Convicted Felon Serve in Congress? (Dec. 24, 2014) (answer: probably, but they usually don’t).

I’m not saying a politician who cries “witch hunt” is necessarily lying. I’m just saying that politician is probably lying.

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minderella
3 days ago
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Writing Devil

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Follow @lamebook on instagram for more content!

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minderella
21 days ago
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Kurt Vonnegut: “There Are Six Seasons Instead of Four”

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In 1978, Kurt Vonnegut gave the commencement speech at Fredonia State College in upstate New York. The speech was published under the title “How to Make Money and Find Love!” in a collection of the author’s commencement addresses, If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? In the speech, Vonnegut suggested to the graduating class that the traditional four seasons don’t make sense for northern areas of the country.

One sort of optional thing you might do is to realize that there are six seasons instead of four. The poetry of four seasons is all wrong for this part of the planet, and this may explain why we are so depressed so much of the time. I mean, spring doesn’t feel like spring a lot of the time, and November is all wrong for autumn, and so on.

Here is the truth about the seasons: Spring is May and June. What could be springier than May and June? Summer is July and August. Really hot, right? Autumn is September and October. See the pumpkins? Smell those burning leaves? Next comes the season called Locking. November and December aren’t winter. They’re Locking. Next comes winter, January and February. Boy! Are they ever cold!

What comes next? Not spring. ‘Unlocking’ comes next. What else could cruel March and only slightly less cruel April be? March and April are not spring. They’re Unlocking.

Vermonters know these six seasons all too well, although they give the two extra seasons different names. What’s going on right now and will continue into mid-to-late December is “stick season”. All the beautiful fall foliage has fallen off of the trees and we’re left with not-so-beautiful sticks until the snow flies regularly enough to call it winter. Between winter and spring — what Vonnegut calls “Unlocking” — is called “mud season” here. That’s when the dozens of feet of snow that fell during the winter, rapidly thawing ground, and Vermont’s rainy season collude to wreak havoc on unpaved roads and driveways, turning them into mud pits, some of which are impassable for a month or more.

Neither of these seasons is particularly pleasant here. Outdoor activities are curtailed — it’s too cold or warm or wet or muddy for your sport of choice — and restaurants and other local businesses often take a break, leaving residents even less to do. “This may explain why we are so depressed so much of the time”, indeed.

Tags: books   commencement speeches   Kurt Vonnegut   Vermont
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minderella
29 days ago
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Cool / Not Cool

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Cool / Not Cool

It’s Movember!

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minderella
34 days ago
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MaryEllenCG
40 days ago
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Greater Bostonia
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The wonders of the isochronous curve

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Curiosity Show was an Australian educational television show that ran from 1972 to 1990. The show's hosts/creators, Morrison and Deane Hutton, now post clips of Curiosity Show on their YouTube channel. In this video we learn what an isochronous curve is and what makes it cool.

[via The Kid Should See This]

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minderella
35 days ago
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1 public comment
bluebec
35 days ago
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I didn't get to watch this until we moved to Victoria. Awesome that they've kept the rights and now have a YouTube channel
Melbourne

Childhood Chills

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Follow @lamebook on instagram for more content!

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minderella
48 days ago
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Ah yes. Columbo covered this in that one episode where the pompous architect murdered someone and Columbo was *sure* the body was buried under the columns of a giant new skyscraper building going up that the architect had designed. Columbo got all the permission to tear up all the concrete, but, whoops, no body no crime. Then the building construction continued and Columbo realized that *now* the body was stashed under the new concrete with the architect knowing full well that Columbo would never get permission to break up all that concrete again. But of course Columbo preservered, all the while with the architect pissed and screaming about all the wasted effort and then, lo and behold, the concrete was broken up a second time and there, sure enough, was the body.

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