Lawyers for embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., are asking a federal judge to block the government from introducing evidence that he charged his campaign thousands of dollars to finance extramarital relationships with several women.
The lawyers argued in an eight-page document filed Friday that federal prosecutors are seeking to introduce evidence not pertinent to the corruption charges against Hunter.
"Evidence of Mr. Hunter's 'intimate affairs' is not directly relevant to the ultimate issue in this case, whether Mr. Hunter knowingly converted campaign funds to his personal use," the motion said.
In this Dec. 3, 2018, photo, Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, center, leaves court in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)
Politico reported that defense attorneys also chastised federal prosecutors for airing Duncan's infidelities in public through a motion filed Monday asking for jurors to hear testimony about the relationships.
“However unpopular the notion of a married man mixing business with pleasure, the government cannot simply dismiss the reality that Mr. Hunter’s relationships with [the women] often served an overtly political purpose that would not have existed irrespective of his occupation,” they wrote.
Hunter — an Iraq War veteran — is scheduled to go on trial for allegedly spending more than $250,000 in campaign funds on vacations, meals, hotel stays and bills. He also allegedly charged the campaign thousands of dollars for drinks, Uber rides and airfare during trysts with various women, who were lobbyists and congressional aides.
Hunter's defense team said the expenses listed by prosecutors were "incurred in connection with a legitimate political activity."
"In its quest to highlight the intimate nature of these relationships, the government fails to meaningfully consider the fact that, just as with Mr. Hunter's platonic relationships, his friendships often blur the line between personal and professional, which is a widespread occurrence in modern politics," the lawyers said.
Hunter has denied any wrongdoing and has said his wife, Margaret Hunter, handled the family's finances and served as his campaign manager.
“Mr. Hunter’s military service is relevant to show he left his family’s financial responsibilities to his wife while on deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this arrangement continued throughout the period of the indictment,” defense lawyers wrote.
Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty earlier this month to a single felony conspiracy charge and is cooperating with prosecutors.
The San Diego congressman's trial is scheduled for September. Hunter's lawyers are also seeking to dismiss the indictment and move the trial out of San Diego County. They argued the extramarital affair allegations have tainted the jury pool.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.