Politics

FEC Questions Rep. Hunter’s Campaign for Not Listing Donor Occupations

Campaign will have to show two attempted requests for donor job information

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., arrives for the House Republican Conference meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Duncan Hunter’s campaign finances are under the Federal Election Commission microscope again — this time for failing to list the occupations of at least 16 donors last filing quarter, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

In a letter to the California Republican’s campaign treasurer this week, the FEC notified Hunter’s campaign that “information requested per best efforts” is not an adequate occupation or employer title for each of the individual contributors.

The Hunter campaign has used the line more than 90 times for donors since 2007, the Union-Tribune found, including for six top executives at the defense contractor Cubic Corporation who donated a combined $3,250 on the same day, March 28, 2016.

The FEC’s letter did not scrutinize donations made prior to the second filing quarter of 2018.

Hunter’s campaign will have to show the FEC that it sent two messages requesting the donors’ occupation information. Even if the donors did not follow up to those requests, Hunter’s campaign still satisfied its obligations that way, Brett Kappel, an expert in campaign laws and ethics rules at the D.C. law firm Akerman LLP, told the Union-Tribune.

The occupation information is vital for the FEC and public to be able to “identify which special interests are supporting a candidate,” Kappel said.

“If twelve people from the same company give the same amount on the same day, it’s fair to infer that the company supports the candidate by either holding a fundraiser for him or attending one,” Kappel said. “In some cases, the occupation may be a clue that company employees may have been reimbursed for their contributions — not many busboys make $1,000 contributions. Without the occupation and employer information, the voters are left in the dark.”

Hunter and his wife, Margaret, face 60 federal charges related to spending more than $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses such as family vacations and golf outings. The couple was indicted by a federal grand jury in late August for allegedly using campaign funds for personal expenses and covering their tracks in campaign finance filings to the FEC.

They both pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment days later and were released on $15,000 bail.

The embattled congressman is running for re-election in California’s 50th District anyway, where he is expected to win despite his legal troubles.

President Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the district by 15 points in 2016.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates Hunter’s race against Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar Likely Republican.

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