Rep. Duncan Hunter Just Can’t Stop Doing Stupid Things

by on May 8, 2019 · 4 comments

in San Diego

By Doug Porter / Words&Deeds / May 6, 2019

San Diego Congressman Duncan Hunter is embroiled in yet another scandal. This one involves a former Soviet Republic, a fugitive from justice, and a seemingly innocuous submission to the Congressional Record.

Normally this wouldn’t be that big a deal, but the statement came via a Russian-tied lobbyist who attended the Trump Tower meeting and  Republican operative Lanny Wiles tied to suspicious payments related to other matters of concern to the Kremlin.

The Kazakh fugitive at the heart of this matter is Bergey Ryskaliyev, a former official who fled his home country for London following allegations that he stole millions from the state budget.

Kazakhistan, for those of you who might have slept thru that class, is the 10th largest country in the world; a authoritarian plutocracy known for shelling out millions of dollars to western public relations consultants to burnish its image.

Wiles was paid $135,000 to promote Ryskaliyez’ case to Congress.

From OpenSecrets.Org:

  • Wiles enlisted his business partner Rinat Akhmetshin — a former Soviet officer and Washington, D.C., lobbyist who took part in the infamous June 2016 Trump Tower meeting — to help with the effort. He paid Akhmetshin $60,000 to help draft language about Ryskaliyev’s situation meant to be entered into the Congressional Record by a member of Congress.
  • Their efforts appear to have paid off.
  • On April 2, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) — who was recently charged with multiple felonies related to misusing campaign funds — submitted a statement into Congressional Record that was almost identical to the suggested language in FARA disclosures, with the vast majority copied word-for-word. The statement decries alleged human rights abuses by the Kazakhstan government and calls for the State Department to review Ryskaliyev’s case.

Akhmetshin, according to a story at Buzzfeed News, “is a well-established Washington power broker who has worked to advance the agendas of Kremlin apparatchiks and influential clients from former Soviet states. When they need someone to bend the ear of a US lawmaker, prod a reporter to write a favorable story, or launch a campaign to discredit their enemies, they turn to Akhmetshin — and pay him handsomely.”

A profile in The New York Times described him as a “master of the dark arts.” Writing at Bloomberg News, Eli Lake claimed Akhmetshin was a former Russian Intelligence agent.

Akhmetshin testified before a grand jury in the Mueller investigation concerning large deposits in the months preceding and following the Trump Tower meeting, where a Russian lawyer offered senior Trump campaign officials dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Lanny Wiles was actively working to undo the Magnitsky Act, a law despised by the Kremlin that sanctioned Russian officials connected to Sergei Magnitsky’s 2009 death. Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer who had worked for American-born investor Bill Browder to uncover a $230 million Russian government corruption scheme

Wiles, whose prior clients were mostly domestic concerns, was introduced into the world of Russian lobbying via his longtime friendship with Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, known in DC circles as Putin’s favorite Congressman. The two men have been friends since their days in the Reagan administration, according to Politico.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, it turns out, was the only Congressperson in attendance at Rohrabacher’s 2017 inaugural party. The two Russians named at the infamous Trump Tower meeting also turned up at the event..

In the scheme of this, this latest scandal is much ado about nothing. Statements entered into Congressional Record are all-too-often written by lobbyists. It does show, however, that Hunter continues to keep questionable company, even as he is barred from serving on congressional committees until such time as his legal issues are resolved.

***

This latest bit of news comes on top of last Friday’s vote by House Committee on Ethics to re-authorize an investigative subcommittee to review allegations against Rep. Duncan Hunter as part of the 116th Congress.

A grand jury indicted the Congressman and his wife last August. They are charged with 60 criminal counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and filing false campaign-finance reports to cover up more than $250,000 allegedly stolen from the campaign treasury over six-plus years.

At the request of the Department of Justice, the subcommittee will take no action on the investigation while the department pursues its criminal prosecution.

***

In April, Representative Hunter made headlines twice. To make a long story short, they could have been titled “Dumb and Dumber.”

In mid-April the Congressman posted a Facebook video purporting to show him climbing over a barrier near Yuma to demonstrate the importance of building a wall along the Mexico border.

He says: “It looks pretty tough to cross. Let me see if I can do it.”

He swings his legs over a horizontal rail less than waist high and declares: “There you go. That’s how easy it is to cross the border in Yuma, Arizona.”

USA! USA!

And, wouldn’t you know it?, he screwed it up.  

Border Patrol spokesman Vincent Dulesky later told the media, “What [Hunter] crossed was a vehicle barrier that is approximately 75-100 feet from the border — the border is actually the river that’s west of that.”

Ammar Campa-Najjar, Hunter’s Democratic challenger, pointed out that Hunter would have been violating his bail agreement.

Campa-Najjar, who narrowly lost to Hunter in 2018, outraised the incumbent by a nearly four-to-one margin in the first quarter of 2019. According to Federal Election Commission filings the challenger raised roughly $350,000 from January through March, while Hunter drew in just under $92,000.

Hunter’s last report for 2018, by the way, also wasn’t very encouraging on a number of levels.

Via the Union-Tribune:

  • In the last five weeks of 2018, Rep. Duncan Hunter’s campaign reported spending hundreds of dollars at a local amusement park and made $2,000 in charges — now disputed — to a technology company that flies drones.
  • The spending at Belmont Park in Mission Beach and the disputed charges at Bytesignal, a Missouri-based technology company, are among $119,861 in expenditures Hunter’s campaign disclosed to the Federal Election Commission on Thursday, in a financial report covering Nov. 27 through Dec. 31. During the same weeks, the campaign reported raising $2,376.

***

The 50th District Congressman was denounced by area Reps. Mike Levin and Susan Davis in April for for relying on a “racist” campaign strategy by repeatedly describing Campa-Najjar, who has Palestinian heritage, as a “national security threat.”

The comments came in the wake of a Hunter fundraising email accusing Campa-Najjar of being boosted by “supporters” of the PLO.

Hunter used similar smears in last fall’s contest, and was called out by The Atlantic for running the “Most Anti-Muslim Campaign in the Country.”.

  • In the final weeks of the election, Hunter has aired ominous ads warning that his Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, is “working to infiltrate Congress” with the support of the Muslim Brotherhood. He has circulated campaign literature claiming the Democrat is a “national security threat” who might reveal secret U.S. troop movements to enemies abroad if elected. While Hunter himself floats conspiracy theories from the stump about a wave of “radical Muslims” running for office in America, his campaign is working overtime to cast Campa-Najjar as a nefarious figure reared and raised by terrorists.

 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Avatar Geoff Page May 9, 2019 at 3:17 pm

Maybe, in the spirit of generosity, we can cut Hunter a little slick, oops,I meant slack, after all look who his father is. They guy didn’t stand much of a chance at learning honesty, decency, compassion, or right from wrong with that role model.

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Avatar David Patterson May 12, 2019 at 8:39 am

Recently Congressman Duncan Hunter met with Ramona chamber of Commerce, VFW and Ramona Tea’d, AKA American Liberty Forum. How nice that our “Representative to Congress” came to Ramona to answer questions but chose to only visit “Hunter friendly” groups. Too bad his trip to the back country wasn’t advertised in any public media that I had seen. Mr. Hunter’s ducking of the public demonstrates another aspect of his lack of leadership, something we voters need to address when and if Mr. Hunter comes up for election next year.
If I have been able to ask questions of Mr. Hunter I might have asked him why he keeps reminding us that Social Security will draw on the US treasury in 2020 because more money will be going out than comes in? It’s not a new concept and had Mr. Hunter been able to plan ahead he could have done something about it besides raising taxes, as he apparently proposed in his meeting with the Chamber of Commerce folks. One option I would have suggested would be for the US government to stop spending more money than they take in, the story since Social Security began. Some stewardship would apply I would think for someone we call our “Representative in Congress”, such as why are we increasing the National debt at a rate never before seen? Spending on the US military, and providing for endless wars never approved by Congress continues to suck the blood out of the treasury, and Mr. Hunter is powerless to do anything about it? I would have asked Mr. Hunter why he and the other Republican didn’t fix the immigration laws, so as to get ahead of the current “immigration crisis” as he calls it. His answer is always to blame the Democrats, but that doesn’t explain his tenure under Republican Congress and Republican Presidents. I am curious what he does in Washington besides party?
I would have asked him why we are on track to spend $1.4 Trillion to modernize our nuclear forces when doing so is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing? That is reducing the number of nuclear weapons downward instead of upward. I would hope that he is aware of the threat of 1 billion refugees overwhelming every society on the planet, if as few as 5 and no more than 20 nuclear bombs go off creating a nuclear Autumn? We know this as fact and yet we are in the process of modernizing our 3900 nuclear weapons when many fewer would provide a suitable deterrence. How about we cut the number to 2,000 Mr. Hunter? By cutting instead of making new, we could invest that $1.4 Trillion in infrastructure, Social Security, or paying down the debt…etc. Then again perhaps these ideas aren’t the subject of discussion in the bars where Mr. Hunter hangs out
Because he is a “law maker”, I would ask Mr. Hunter if he thinks he should have changed the laws regarding embezzlement of campaign funds to exempt politicians, so that he could.be spending his campaign funds on his campaign, and not for legal representation. Finally I would ask Mr. Hunter if he could stop representing himself as a modern day Marlboro man with his public vaping and support of vaping companies? Our teens are now facing an epidemic of nicotine ingestion, an addictive chemical more powerful than cocaine. Setting a good example for our teens is good leadership. Vaping to look good is not.

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Avatar Geoff Page May 13, 2019 at 9:24 am

And, if you had the opportunity to ask Hunter all those questions, you’d just get a blank stare and his only thought would be “his lips are moving but I have no idea what he’s talking about.”

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Avatar Vern May 13, 2019 at 11:23 am

On October 9th, 2014, Duncan Hunter went on FOX News to claim that the United States needed to improve border security because they had already caught 10 ISIS fighters trying to enter the country through there. As it turns out, no one from the Border Patrol or Pentagon had any idea what the hell he was talking about, because it was patently false. It’s still unclear where Hunter got his “intelligence” regarding these ISIS fighters.

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