Californian Congressman Duncan D. Hunter pleaded guilty in Federal court on Tuesday to stealing over $150,000 of campaign funds to support his lavish lifestyle.
The purchased items were “as inconsequential as fast food, movie tickets and sneakers; as trivial as video games, Lego sets and Playdoh,” according to the press release posted on justice.gov. In 2016, the San Diego Union Tribune acquired a letter from the Federal Election Commission that listed 68 separate occasions where Hunter used the funds to pay for video games.
In dollars, those 68 instances of game purchase translate to $1,302. The purchases are from a short period in 2015 and are listed on the campaign finance disclosure as “personal expense - to be paid back.” According to the report, there is no payback listed for the time period of the report.
Video games are not the only thing the congressman admitted to purchasing. There were other expenses as mundane as groceries and dog food, while some were more luxurious and included such things as hotels, vacations, and plane tickets for the congressman’s pet rabbits, Eggburt and Cadbury.
The FEC has also targeted Hunter’s wife Margaret, and alleges that the couple were both deeply in debt while they were using these funds. She has accepted a plea deal and has subsequently cooperated with the investigation.
The presiding judge commented on the guilty plea from Hunter, casting it in a positive light.
“Dunan Hunter intentionally took money that did not belong to him and used it for his own benefit. For that, he has been held accountable, and we are pleased that today he has taken this first step toward taking responsibility for his crime,” U.S. District Judge Thomas J. Whelan said.
In the past, Hunter has been a strong advocate for the innocence of violent video games in the wake of mass shootings. He spoke about how the implication that violent video games cause kids to commit mass shootings conveyed that young Americans were unable to discern right from wrong, and painted those implications as false.
But while he may have been an ally of gamers in the past, his allegiance to gaming looks to have been taken a bit too far in this instance.