A California congressman has been charged with campaign finance violations among other infractions that involved the misuse of $250,000 in campaign funds, $1528.68 of which was spent on Steam games in 2015.
Congressman Duncan Hunter is the politician who, along with his wife Margaret, was formally charged with wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations, and conspiracy in regards to the campaign funds, Ars Technica reports. When the Steam purchases that used the congressman’s campaign funds were discovered back in April 2016 when the Federal Election Commission began questioning Hunter, his spokesman said that the charges were a result Hunter’s son using the congressman’s credit card for one game. Hunter said that several unauthorized purchases were made after the charges went through for the first game, charges that he said he wanted to have reversed.
However, it was discovered that those charges appeared to be more than just a few accidental purchases. Records showed that the purchases were made over the course of two months between October 13 and December 16 with 68 different purchases being made to total over $1,500 in gaming purchases. At one point, a charge of $96 went through despite Hunter’s claims that he had attempted to “close access to the website.” It was originally reported that the congressman had spent just over $1,300 on the games, but it appears that the grand total was even larger.
As of Tuesday, prosecutors have officially charged the congressman for the misuse of campaign funds with the charges mentioned above being levied against he and his wife. The story of how the purchases were made and whether they were intentional or not has changed though with Hunter’s wife saying once that they were “personal” purchases and were mistakenly put on the campaign credit card, Ars Technica said in an update. It's a stance that differs from Hunter's original statement saying the charges were unauthorized. Following that statement, it was said that the two would repay the campaign for the Steam purchases made in 2015, but according to the documents shared by the Federal Election Commission, Margaret Hunter told the family’s bank that the purchases were “fraudulent” and got a credit for the funds that were spent.
The money spent on Steam games was just a fraction of the campaign funds that the Federal Election Commission says the congressman misused, however. Other instances of personal spending including vacations, salon and dental trips, and other forms of inappropriate spending that the congressman’s family will now have to address.