Five-term incumbent Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, is raising significantly less campaign money than his Democratic challenger on the November ballot, first-time candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar.
The campaign for Hunter, who is running for re-election while under federal indictment for crimes stemming from the alleged theft of more than $250,000 from his campaign coffers, reported raising $132,541 during the three months ending Sept. 30, according to reports filed this week with the Federal Election Commission.
The campaign for Campa-Najjar raised $1.4 million during the same time period, according to FEC records.
Hunter’s indictment occurred about halfway through the reporting period, on Aug. 21. He and his wife were charged with 60 federal counts of misspending campaign contributions on personal expenses. They have pleaded not guilty.
Compared to total funds raised in the first half of 2018, the third quarter reports show a surge in campaign donations for Campa-Najjar and weakened donor support for Hunter.
The campaign for Campa-Najjar reported raising $205,243 in the first quarter and $362,872 in the second, according to FEC records. In the third quarter alone, the campaign raised $1.4 million.
Hunter’s campaign reported raising $210,268 in the first quarter and $183,400 in the second, FEC records show. In the third quarter, Hunter’s campaign reported $132,541 in total receipts.
Among the contributions that Hunter’s campaign received in the third quarter was a $2,000 donation from Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. The campaign reported receiving the donation Aug. 17, less than a week before the U.S. Department of Justice announced Duncan and Margaret Hunter’s indictment.
Hunter, who was one of the first members of Congress to endorse Trump’s campaign for president, has called his indictment a politically-motivated attack.
Shortly after the indictment, Trump posted a tweet in which he criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions for allowing criminal charges against Republican candidates who were up for election and had been favored to win.
“Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time,” Trump wrote in the tweet before adding, sarcastically, “Good job Jeff.”
In May, Hunter’s campaign reported paying $244 to “Trump International Hotel Restaurant” in Washington, D.C., FEC records show. The campaign reported the purpose of the expenditure as “travel.”
Hunter’s campaign did not immediately respond to The San Diego Union-Tribune’s questions about the payment or why the May expenditure was not included in the financial disclosure covering April 1 to June 30.
Other expenditures Hunter’s campaign reported during the quarter ending Sept. 30 included a $286 payment to the Washington Nationals baseball team for “Congressional baseball tickets” and $475 paid to Hunter’s official congressional office account for the purpose of “flags.”
Hunter’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Support for Campa-Najjar’s campaign has been largely driven by contributions from individual donors, who are the source of about 95 percent of the campaign’s total receipts, according to data in the FEC reports.
Hunter’s campaign has gotten a little more than half its total contributions from individual donors, with the rest coming from political action committees and other political campaigns, FEC data shows.
Recent polling has suggested the race between Campa-Najjar and Hunter is a close one, with Hunter’s lead smaller than the margin of error.