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Rep. Duncan Hunter's campaign expenses detailed: Nail salon, dentist and more

Rep. Duncan Hunter's campaign expenses detailed: Nail salon, dentist and more
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in 2014. (Getty Images)

Federal election officials on Wednesday released an accounting from Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) itemizing dozens of apparently personal outlays — expenses for which he has reimbursed his campaign to the tune of $60,000.

The list includes utility companies, a dentist, a nail salon, Albertsons, Costco, Walmart, Home Depot, Dick's Sporting Goods, Trader Joe's and Abercrombie & Fitch — as well as 32 airline transactions, a hotel in Italy and the Arizona Grand Resort.

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The disclosure comes as Hunter, an early supporter of President-elect Donald Trump, is in contention for a top post in the incoming administration.

Hunter spokesman Joe Kasper said many of the expenditures on the new report were legitimate, but Hunter decided to reimburse them to be safe.

"A very large number of the charges were for specific campaign purposes, but if there was inadequate support … it was Hunter's decision to include those expenditures," Kasper said in an email. "He wanted to do that in an absolute abundance of caution."

The filing released by the Federal Election Commission accounts for $48,650 of reimbursements made earlier this month. In April, Hunter had reimbursed the campaign for $12,000.

Federal law does not allow campaign money to be spent for personal benefit, to guard against undue influence by contributors. Many contributions to Hunter's campaign, which has raised $1.1 million since January 2015, came from defense and transportation companies that have a stake in decisions made by committees on which the congressman serves.

The FEC filing is the result of an "independent financial review" Hunter promised in April, after the San Diego Union-Tribune detailed an FEC inquiry into video game expenses charged to his campaign.

Hunter reported some of the expenditures as mistakes at that time, and explained that there were mix-ups based on the color of his credit cards. His wife, Margaret, is paid $3,000 a month as campaign manager, and Hunter said in April she would no longer have access to the campaign charge card.

But charges continued to come under scrutiny, including $2,000 Hunter's campaign spent on restaurants, hotels and train travel in the Italian cities of Rome, Florence and Positano during Thanksgiving week in 2015.

"It is permissible to use campaign funds for expenses not covered by the MRA (mandatory returning of allowances) on travel, which includes international travel," Kasper said at the time. "Further, campaign funds can be used for purposes of obtaining donation items or donor support items, as is the case here."

The report filed Wednesday with the FEC included reimbursement for the $2,000 in expenses for the Italy trip.

Hunter has been widely reported as a contender for secretary of Defense or national security advisor in Trump's administration. The transition team did not respond to questions Wednesday about whether Hunter's campaign spending issues might affect an appointment.

Cook writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune

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