Election '18

Indicted Congressman's Father Goes on Unhinged Rant Calling Son's Opponent a Terrorist Sympathizer

Duncan Hunter Sr. is all in on the racist smear campaign against Democratic candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar.

Image via IowaPolitics.com

California's 50th Congressional District, in suburban San Diego, is one of the most conservative districts in the state, and was never supposed to be competitive. But following GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr.'s indictment for stealing campaign funds, wire fraud, and falsifying records, his Democratic opponent, former Labor Department official Ammar Campa-Najjar, has seen his poll numbers surging to within single digits.

Clearly panicked, Hunter has pivoted to racist scaremongering about his opponent, trying to imply that the Mexican-Palestinian Campa-Najjar is a terroristic threat to national security.

This week, that message was endorsed enthusiastically by Hunter's father, Duncan Hunter Sr., a former congressman who held the seat prior to his son. In a bizarre press conference on Tuesday, the elder Hunter all but stated outright that Campa-Najjar would commit treason to help jihadists.

Hunter Sr. reminded the crowd of reporters that Campa-Najjar's grandfather, Muhammed Youssef al-Najjar, helped plot the 1972 Munich Olympic attack that killed 11 Israeli athletes, and noted that his father was once a diplomat for the Palestinian Liberation Organization. "If you tell me that he is not going to pass military information to [his father], my answer is, don't bet your life on it. And don't bet the lives of our troops on it," he said. This criticism did not have to do with race, he added, "it has to do with terrorism. This is terrorism."

For the record, Campa-Najjar is estranged from his father, never knew his grandfather, has never supported terrorism, and is a practicing Christian who supports a two-state solution and has the backing of a pro-Israel PAC. As for which candidate is a security risk, Campa-Najjar has held an FBI security clearance, whereas Hunter Jr. would no longer be eligible for one due to the federal charges against him.

Campa-Najjar, who was also present at the press conference, responded with grace. "Hunter's father is not running for Congress, and neither is mine. I'm running for Congress," he said. "People should judge me on my own merits, my own actions, my own record, and Hunter on his."

Hunter's indictment was the result of a year-long investigation into his alleged lavish spending of $250,000 in campaign funds on luxury travel, dental work, and other personal expenses for himself, his wife, and his family. Federal prosecutors say he and his wife also conspired to falsify the charges as legitimate campaign expenses, at one point writing off a clothing purchase as "some [golf balls] for the wounded warriors."

Hunter has maintained his innocence, and tried to blame his wife for the whole thing.

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Matthew Chapman is a video game designer, science fiction author, and political reporter from Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter @fawfulfan.