January 24, 2020

The Surreal Saga of Disgraced GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter and His Campaign’s Missing $250K
The writers’ room for this season of being alive really balled out when they dreamed up the Duncan Hunter arc. Over the past few years, as details about the conservative congressman’s tenure representing California’s 50th district emerged, the story swung so rapidly from infuriating to hilarious it could have been plucked from an overzealous procedural. Here was a candidate who looked like a golf Channel pundit, the successor to a West Coast political dynasty, who took charge of a Republican stronghold in the bluest state, embezzled some $250,000 in campaign money, got indicted by the feds, and won re-election in spite of it. Then, suddenly he flipped: Hunter pleaded guilty, resigned, and left his seat vulnerable to a Democratic challenger during one of the most engaged and bitter election cycles in recent memory. Add in the staffer affairs, racist dog whistles, 68 unexplained video game payments, an actual rabbit on a plane, and the whole thing sounded like what failed screenwriter Ben Shapiro might call “dramedy.”Wednesday, the Duncan Hunter saga came to the digital screen as a five-part docu-series called The 50th, produced by Samuel Hodgson of The San Diego Union Tribune, the regional newspaper where reporter Morgan Cook first broke the story of Hunter’s campaign spending back in April of 2016. Those looking for hints of dramedy or even just a rendering of the Hunter saga in all its wild detail, will not find it in The 50th. But the series does serve as an informative primer on the congressman’s scandal, the race to replace him, and the reporter who figured it all out. The series starts with an overview of Hunter’s district, a rural territory covering much of San Diego County. It’s easy to see California as a blue monolith, down for legal weed, safe abortions and abundant almond milk. But the 50th—known as the 52nd until 2013, when the area was expanded in a redistricting initiative—votes more like Louisiana than Los Angeles, making it one of just seven Republican districts in the entire state, all clustered inland after the midterms swallowed the remaining red parts on the coast. Hunter took office in 2009, succeeding his father, also named Duncan Hunter, meaning that the 50th district has been overseen by a Republican named Duncan Hunter since 1981. That seemed poised to change in 2018 when, after months of reports that Hunter had misused public money for personal expenses, the Department of Justice unsealed an indictment charging the congressman and his wife on several counts of wire fraud, falsifying records, campaign finance violations, and conspiracy. The 47-page complaint detailed how the couple allegedly leeched campaign funds between 2009 and 2016 to pay for “hotel rooms, airline tickets and upgrades, meals and food, and entertainment expenses for vacations for themselves and their friends and family, including more than $14,000 for a family Thanksgiving vacation in Italy in November 2015,” as well as Star Wars merch, bachelor parties, clothing from Abercrombie & Fitch, a family trip to SeaWorld Aquatica Family Waterpark, and a plane ticket for their pet rabbit on a trip to Washington D.C. For months after the indictment, Hunter denied the allegations, calling the Union-Tribune fake news and mocking the charges as a witch hunt. He won the 2018 election, though a Democratic candidate named Ammar Campa-Najjar came close to taking it from him. In December of 2019, however, Hunter changed his story and pleaded guilty. He resigned from office earlier this month. “I failed to monitor and account for my campaign spending. I made mistakes and that’s what today was all about.” Hunter says in a press conference clip featured in the first episode. “That being said, I’ll have more statements in the future, about the future.” That all seems like important context for what’s happening now: three Republicans and a Democrat facing off for the chance to become the first non-Duncan Hunter to hold that seat in nearly 40 years. But The 50th inverts the chronology, hinting at the scandal before jumping into the race for 2020, meandering around candidate rallies and conventions, before making its way back to the extremely important catalyst of it all. It may be that the series was structured to save the most exciting parts for last, but the result does not register as suspense, so much as a confusion about where to start the story.But the story starts anyway. The second episode begins after the indictment, but before Hunter’s guilty plea, when the race still has four Republican candidates. There’s Darrell Issa, the former California representative who was scared out of his seat in the neighboring 49th district by the midterm blue wave; Carl De Maio, a smug Never-Trumper who still makes jokes about straws; Brian Jones, a warm, sarcastic cowboy type and the sole candidate who actually lives in the district; and Hunter himself. There’s also another candidate—Campa-Najjar, who appears as the focus of the third episode. Hunter deployed heavily racist tactics, attacking Campa-Najjar, who is half-Palestinian, as an “Islamist” trying to “infiltrate Congress,” even though Campa-Najjar is Christian. But Campa-Najjar came closer than anyone thought he would in the deep red district. In 2020, the young Dem explains in the episode, he’s trying again and, given Hunter’s plummeting popularity, he may have a shot. The fourth episode hops back to the right side of the aisle, into a heated debate before the GOP primary. The candidates don’t really discuss their policies or platforms, choosing instead to attack their opponents—a pitfall the series falls into some itself. The 50th doesn’t attack anyone (it is entirely without bite, as to be expected from a newspaper), but it likewise fails to talk about what, exactly, the contenders are running on. When viewers meet the candidates, it’s at fundraisers or in interviews, during speeches about values, embarrassment over California’s liberal bent, and how to keep America great. Even Campa-Najjar doesn’t do much to differentiate himself or spell out what makes him the better choice. For a show that focuses so much on the election, The 50th doesn’t engage with the ideas that might well get one of them elected. The final episode delivers what everyone was waiting for: Hunter’s downfall. It’s a condensed summary of the saga, skipping over many of the best parts—the odd purchases, Hunter’s blustering explanations (to a Treasurer inquiry about whether a round of golf and beers was campaign-related, Hunter wrote: “Yessir-All good”), the affairs he funded on the side. But The 50th does tell a story that gets much less traction: how San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Megan Cook found the scoop in a stray memo from the S.E.C. In April of 2016, Cook penned a 384-word piece about 68 mysterious payments Hunter had made for video games, and inadvertently stumbled into the saga that would end his career. Maybe it’s to be expected for a docuseries produced by a paper, but The 50th works best when it’s running a victory lap for the journalists who reported Hunter out of office. The full story, pet rabbits and all, can come later. I’m sure Hollywood will have someone on it soon. 
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Work Love Triangle, Porsha's Strict Dinner Rules & Duck Phobia - "Nightly Pop" 11/30/21 | E! News
November 30, 2021
N3c4DTDaWGg
Shaking His Tatums, Tiffany's Too Busy for Love & Adele Cry-Fest - "Nightly Pop" 11/30/21 | E! News
November 30, 2021
i4baRd-AZWw
Selena Gomez Claps Back at TikTok Critic After Drinking "Joke" | E! News
November 30, 2021
oBtX4RzI_dU
Ben Affleck: It’s important to have 2 parents for the upbringing of a child | Page Six
December 01, 2021
gLQMBrL1afQ
Teen Mom's Amber Portwood says relationship with daughter Leah is ‘much better’ now| Page Six
December 01, 2021
g79CurdSDIY
Bethenny Frankel and Jason Hoppy are still battling over daughter Bryn | Page Six Celebrity News
November 30, 2021
Bia5SQYW2Bg
ATL Mayoral Candidate Says T.I., Isaac Hayes III's Fake News Hurt Election Chances | TMZ
December 02, 2021
xFlFobjMkaU
Billy Porter Says Virgil Abloh Did a Lot for Diversity in Fashion | TMZ
December 02, 2021
alwkDkMVaFk
Rep. Tim Burchett Calls BS on Pentagon Heading Up UFO Research | TMZ
December 01, 2021
b6MI--aC_Yk
'Summer of Soul' Director Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson Joins Variety's Doc Dreams
November 29, 2021
DbTuXYlVQwY
Peter Jackson Reveals How He Convinced Beatles Paul and Ringo To Let Him Make 'Get Back'
November 24, 2021
K95MIzDth_A
Kevin Hart, Wesley Snipes, and Eric Newman Talk 'True Story' and Kevin's Acting Skills
November 23, 2021
PuTxxFD4tHM
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
19
Nov
ASIAN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group H
Sydney FC - Shanghai SIPG
17
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Spain - Germany
14
Nov
UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A: Group Stage
Germany - Ukraine
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Liverpool
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Aston Villa
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Real Madrid
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Verona
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Bromwich Albion - Tottenham Hotspur
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Napoli
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Genoa - Roma
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Inter Milan
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Juventus
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Monchengladbach
08
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Wolves
08
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Wolfsburg - Hoffenheim
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Valladolid - Athletic Bilbao
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Alaves
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Sociedad - Granada CF
08
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Torino - Crotone
08
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Villarreal
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bayern Munich
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Manchester United
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - Sheffield United
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Atletico Madrid - Cadiz
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Real Betis
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Hertha Berlin
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Stuttgart - Eintracht Frankfurt
07
Nov
GERMANY: Bundesliga
RB Leipzig - SC Freiburg
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Rotherham - Preston NE
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Parma - Fiorentina
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Watford - Coventry
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Norwich City - Swansea City
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Blackburn - QPR
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Derby County - Barnsley
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Huddersfield - Luton
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Nottingham Forest - Wycombe Wanderers
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Fulham
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Sheffield Wednesday - Millwall
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Brentford - Middlesbrough
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Championship
Birmingham - Bournemouth
07
Nov
SPAIN: La Liga
Sevilla - Osasuna
07
Nov
ITALY: Serie A
Benevento - Spezia
07
Nov
ENGLAND: Premier League
Crystal Palace - Leeds
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Ferencvaros - Juventus
04
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group G
Barcelona - Dynamo K.
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group A
Salzburg - Bayern Munich
03
Nov
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage, Group D
Atalanta - Liverpool
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.