By Gina Martinez
August 24, 2018

California Congressman Duncan Hunter gave his first interview since he and his wife were charged with campaign fund abuse, calling the charges against him “pure politics” and also appeared to shift blame on his wife, saying she handled their finances.

“She was also the campaign manager so whatever she did, that’ll be looked at too, I’m sure, but I didn’t do it.” Hunter told Martha MacCallum in an interview on FOX News’ The Story. Duncan said his wife, Margaret Hunter, was in control of their finances when he was first deployed in Iraq in 2003 and that she continued to handle them after he joined Congress.

Hunter and his wife pleaded “not guilty” on Thursday to federal charges that they spent more than $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses that included lavish vacations, groceries and golf trips. When asked about specifics, including the accusation that the congressman told his wife to buy a pair of shorts while in Hawaii at a golf shop and describe the purchase as golf balls for wounded warriors, he told MacCallum “I don’t remember that but I would never do that.”

The Hawaii trip is one of many trips he described as “fundraisers.”

“That’s how we campaign and try to raise money is by traveling, having dinners, meeting people and raising more money,” he told Fox News. “That’s how people get to hear me and hear what I have to say, and they donate money.”

He said any money spent improperly was paid back.

“My campaign did make mistakes. There was money spent on things, not by me but by the campaign, and I paid that back before my last election. I paid back $60,000 dollars after I did an objective audit. This is pure politics.” he said.

Write to Gina Martinez at gina.martinez@time.com.

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