A taxpayer-funded employee for Rep. Duncan Hunter told a group of GOP activists they should support the indicted congressman despite the risk that he “vacates the seat” — either by criminal conviction or forced resignation — in order to make it easier to keep the district in Republican hands.
Mike Harrison, Hunter’s district chief of staff, asked San Diego Republicans at a Sept. 10 meeting to keep supporting Hunter, three weeks after he and his wife, Margaret, were charged with using more than $250,000 in campaign contributions on personal expenses.
Harrison, who is paid by Hunter’s congressional office and not his campaign, said he was appearing on his “own time” — suggesting he was off the clock — in order to talk about politics.
Some attendees were clearly frustrated with Hunter. In audio of the meeting obtained by the American Ledger, one woman said she was “super frustrated” with Hunter’s lavish spending, which included vacations to Hawaii and Italy, while his personal bank accounts ran dry.
Harrison encouraged attendees to support Hunter and painted Hunter’s Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, as “far left” and “completely contrary” to the district’s values.
“It is imperative that we win this, and we will continue to fight, and if for some reason there is an opportunity or that something happened and Mr. Hunter vacates the seat, it gives the voters of our district — and I live out there — the voters of our district the opportunity to represent somebody that represents our values, not have somebody else forced on us that is completely contrary to everything we believe in,” Harrison said.
Hunter, for his part, is defiantly staying in the race and has accused the Jeff Sessions-led Justice Department of being the “Democrats’ arm of law enforcement.”
Harrison also took a cue from his boss — and from President Donald Trump — by casting the charges as partisan politics carried out by supporters of Hillary Clinton, despite a Trump-nominated federal prosecutor bringing the charges.
“Adam Braverman is a Trump appointee, OK? He’s the U.S. attorney here. But the people working under him — the assistant U.S. attorney — are people that have been here a long time. Again, two of them went to the Clinton fundraiser and one of them’s name is Phil Halpen. He was involved in the investigation against Duke Cunningham,” he said, referring to former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, who was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2006 for taking bribes from military contractors.
“So they’ve been there a while, so the idea that it’s impossible that this is politically motivated because they’re Trump people, that’s not true,” he said.