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Rep. Duncan Hunter and wife indicted for campaign finance violations

Congressman Duncan Hunter (File photo)

A Republican congressman from California and his wife have been charged with misusing $250,000 of campaign funds, authorities say.

Duncan and Margaret Hunter were indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday facing charges of syphoning the cash over seven years for family vacations to Hawaii and Italy, dental bills, theater tickets and numerous other non-campaign expenses.

Hunter, 41, and his 43-year-old wife are accused of having "repeatedly dipped into campaign coffers as if they were personal bank accounts," US Attorney Adam Braverman said in a statement.

"Elected representatives should jealously guard the public's trust, not abuse their positions for personal gain," he added.

In a statement, the Justice Department said the two will be arraigned early Thursday in federal court in San Diego.

Republican strategists expressed concern that the case could put at risk Hunter's traditionally safe district, covering most of eastern San Diego County, in November's midterm elections.

The charges, which follow a year-long federal investigation, include wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations and conspiracy among others.

According to federal prosecutors, there were "scores of instances" between 2009 and 2016 in which the Hunters used campaign funds to pay for "personal expenses that they could not otherwise afford."

The couple allegedly misreported the expenses on Federal Election Commission filings through using false descriptions such as "campaign travel", "dinner with volunteers/contributors" and "gift cards."

US House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (File photo)

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who demanded that Hunter resign, said the charges “are further evidence of the rampant culture of corruption among Republicans in Washington today.”

“Once again, one of President Trump’s earliest supporters in Congress has broken the public trust and abused his position to enrich himself and his family. Speaker Ryan must immediately call on Congressman Hunter to resign, and affirm that no one is above the law," she said in a statement.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, (R-WI), also issued a statement, saying that “now that he has been indicted, Rep. Hunter will be removed from his committee assignments pending the resolution of this matter."

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