Things are looking grim for Republican congressman Duncan Hunter. His trial for felony misappropriation of campaign funds is set for September 10. Judges have rejected his efforts to toss out the indictment or move the trial to a venue where potential jurors haven’t been exposed to his tiresome act. His wife, a co-defendant, has apparently turned state’s witness, perhaps because Hunter is now alleged to have used campaign money for expenses related to fooling around on her, extensively. All along, and throughout his political career, he has leaned heavily on his background as an undoubtedly brave Marine officer who deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq. So this news via NBC probably struck him as an Et tu? moment:
The Marine Corps has issued a cease and desist letter to Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., for using the official Marine Corps emblem and phrase on campaign mailers that link his likely 2020 opponent and two Democratic congresswomen to terror.
In a letter to Hunter obtained by NBC News, the Marine Corps Trademark Licensing Office tells the congressman, “It has come to our attention that your campaign is using the official USMC Eagle, Globe and Anchor (Emblem) and the phrase ‘No Better Friend, NO Worse Enemy’ (Phrase) as an integral part of your political campaign, namely, on at least one fundraising mailer to your constituents.”
The letter, dated Tuesday, demands that Hunter’s campaign “immediately remove the Emblem and the Phrase from its mailers, and, without limitation, from all other campaign materials including websites and other instances where the Emblem or the Phrase are being used.
Perhaps the Corps just has a policy of strictly defending its copyrights. But it’s also possible the Marines would prefer to avoid any close association with Hunter, whose conduct as alleged by the federal prosecutors pursuing him makes him out to be a man with virtually no control over his spending habits (one of the Hunters’ financial problems was the incredible number of bounced-check fees they were paying) or his libido. There’s also the little problem that the campaign themes in which Hunter embroiled the Marines involves his incessant religious and ethnic slurs against his 2018 (and likely 2020) Democratic opponent and other Democratic pols:
The mailer, which some have already called Islamophobic, is written in Hunter’s voice and targets Ammar Campa-Najjar, who ran against Hunter in 2018 and plans to run again in 2020, and Democratic House members Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — two of the congresswomen recently attacked on Twitter by President Donald Trump. The mailer calls them “radical democrats” who “want you to forget their anti-Semitism or Family-Terrorist Ties!”
Hunter adds, “But as a Marine I’ll never forget the 1983 Beirut bombings and the 1972 Olympic murders!”
The congressman is in danger of giving corrupt adulterers a bad name.
But he may also be hearing footsteps. Republicans are already planning ahead for the fine day when Hunter resigns in disgrace, perhaps as part of a plea deal. And a very familiar name is in the wind, as The Hill reported recently:
Issa, who left the House in early January after not seeking reelection, is carefully tracking the federal corruption case involving GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter, whose San Diego-area district is adjacent to the one Issa used to represent.
Sources close to the former Oversight and Reform Committee chairman say he is considering a bid for California’s 50th Congressional District if Hunter resigns or decides not to seek reelection.
Issa retired in 2018 rather than facing a likely defeat (Democrat Mike Levin ultimately defeated Republican Diane Harkey for his seat by a very comfortable 56-44 margin), and was later nominated by Donald Trump to head the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, a small independent agency that promotes exports to a select group of (mostly) developing countries. As you may be aware, Issa has been a controversial figure throughout his career, and also probably requires some financial vetting (he was the wealthiest member of Congress when he retired). So his confirmation is hardly assured. Hunter’s district is far more hospitable to a Republican than was Issa’s; it reelected Hunter, after all, even after his indictment.
Perhaps Issa and other Republicans will courteously wait to see if Hunter’s descent into legal hell compels him to release his grip on the congressional seat. If he doesn’t, they may decide to give him a bit of a push, or a savage primary challenge.
It should be noted that if Issa does wind up running in Hunter’s district, it could create an interesting general election matchup of two candidates who identify as Arab-American. Issa’s father was Lebanese, and Campa-Najjar’s father was famously Palestinian. Though both men are Christians, the prospect of being displaced by two sons of the Middle East would probably bug Hunter almost as much as the prospect of prison food.