WASHINGTON — Donors to a special fund established by Rep. Duncan Hunter to underwrite his legal defense include the board member of the company founded by his uncle and multibillion-dollar defense contractors.

Hunter can tap $60,800 in donations to a piggy bank separate from his campaign committee — called the Duncan D. Hunter Legal Expense Trust — to finance his legal case. Hunter faces trial in Sept. on 60 federal charges related to spending more than $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses such as a family vacation to Italy and dental work.

The story was first reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune from Hunter’s quarterly finance report obtained from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Hunter and his wife were indicted by a federal grand jury in August 2018 for allegedly using campaign funds for personal expenses and covering their tracks in campaign finance filings to the Federal Election Commission. They both pleaded not guilty to the charges at an arraignment days later.

Donors included Tyler A. Lowrey, a member of the board of directors for Litel Instruments, a San Diego technology company founded by Robert O. Hunter Jr., the congressman’s uncle, the paper reported.

The trust fund also reported contributions from two top executives connected to defense contractors: Linden Blue, vice chairman of General Atomics; and Gene W. Ray, former chief executive at the Titan Corporation and managing director of GMT Ventures, which consults burgeoning technology and defense companies.

Hunter served on the House Armed Services Committee until being removed from that seat under new ethics rules in January.

Companies and individuals linked to Edison Chouest Offshore, a Louisiana shipyard operator, contributed $25,000 to the trust fund.

Hunter lobbied the U.S. Coast Guard in 2016 to purchase a polar ice-breaking ship owned by the company despite reports it was susceptible to mechanical error, according to a Los Angeles Times story at the time.

Hunter has allocated $22,500 from the fund to the San Diego law firm Seltzer, Caplan, McMahon, Vitek and $4,500 to the Washington, D.C., law firm Holtzman, Vogel, Josefiak, Torchinsky.


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