East County Congressman Stands Alone: No Reportable Assets or Income

Not counting his House salary and home, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter reports no assets above $1,000.

An Alpine father of three owns a home with his wife. He has less than $1,000 in his bank account, owns no insurance or stocks worth more than $1,000 and has no IRAs or 529 college savings plans for his kids.

His only income is his government salary and maybe a pension from his time in the Marines.

This could describe dozens of men in the inland town of 14,200, but according to federal disclosure statements, it’s the story of Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, the Republican representing the 52nd Congressional District.

Hunter, the son of a longtime congressman, has called himself an average guy from East County.

But a La Mesa Patch survey of his county and state House of Representatives colleagues finds no others in the same boat. All report some assets or income outside of their $174,000 annual salaries (see attached).

Joe Kasper, Hunter’s press secretary in Washington, responded Monday to queries about Hunter’s financial status.

Hunter was asked:

According to the Instruction Guide For Completing Calendar Year 2010 Financial Disclosure Statement (attached), “Real and personal property held by you, your spouse, or a dependent child as an investment or for the production of income must be disclosed on Schedule III if it had a value in excess of $1,000 at the close of the calendar year or generated unearned income in excess of $200 during the calendar year.”

Can you confirm you had no reportable assets in:


  • Real Property
  • Corporate Securities
  • Mutual Funds, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs)
  • Government Securities and Agency Debt
  • Asset-Backed Securities
  • Bank Accounts
  • Ownership Interests in Privately Held Companies
  • Futures and Options
  • IRAs, 401(k) Plans, and Other Non-Federal Retirement Accounts
  • Annuities
  • Hedge Funds and Private Equity Funds
  • 529 College Savings Accounts
  • Insurance Policies
  • Debts Owed to the Filer
  • Trusts
  • Investment Clubs
  • Collectibles
  • Intellectual Property/Royalties

Kasper replied: “The financial disclosure statement is accurate.”

Asked whether providing for his family on a congressional salary (and possibly military pension) alone has been difficult, Hunter replied via email:

“One of the big challenges with being a member of Congress, from San Diego, is the time away from my family. 

“San Diego and Washington, D.C., are two high-cost areas—on opposite ends of the country. I have three children and, as a father and husband, I have the same responsibilities when in Washington D.C. for the week as I do when I’m home and, whether it was during my time in the Marine Corps, or now as a member of Congress, I’m just grateful for their love and support—no matter what the job entails or what it provides.”

According to real estate records (attached) Hunter and his wife, Margaret, paid $595,000 for a 2,713-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bath home in July 2009.

The seller of the home on South Grade Road was the Nathan L. and Helen E. Astleford Family Trust.

Hunter’s answers—and questions about his financial disclosures—come as Congress debates President Barack Obama’s $450 billion jobs plan.

Hunter voted against raising the debt ceiling because of fears the legislation would result in deep cuts to the Defense Department.

In a meeting with Patch editors three weeks ago, Hunter was asked: “If you had to vote for either raising taxes on people whose annual income is more than $1 million or cutting the military budget, which would you do? Raise taxes on the richest?”

Hunter began by saying: “I would rather not answer a hypothetical question.”

Last week, Obama vowed that he would veto “any bill that changes benefits for those who rely on Medicare but does not raise serious revenues by asking the wealthiest Americans or biggest corporations to pay their fair share.”

So last week the question was put to Hunter:

Assuming the president’s veto threat is serious, do you support tax increases for millionaires to avoid defense cuts of $600 billion over 10 years under the trigger mechanism of the Budget Control Act of 2011?

Hunter’s reply Monday was:

“The defense budget is not the reason for the country’s debt problem.  Tax increases can be avoided altogether with several structural reforms to the budget and the tax code. 

“There is strong consensus that raising taxes amid a recession would be problematic—a message even reiterated by the President Obama’s former budget director. 

“I’m not for increasing taxes, but in terms of what the supercommittee may or may not recommend, I’ll need to see the details before I can say how I’ll vote if the trigger isn’t initiated. 

“But we can’t ignore the fact that taxes on wealthier Americans are taxes on people who create jobs. In essence, we would be taxing the capital that turns the economy.  Four years after the 2003 tax cuts, unemployment dropped two percentage points, while revenue increased 44 percent. 

“That says something about the impact of these job creators on the American economy.”

La Mesa Patch also asked Hunter:

If you vote against tax increases for millionaires, and the deficit plan is vetoed, how will you protect the defense budget?

Hunter replied: “That’s hard to say right now. There are a few options under discussion, but I definitely think we can avoid getting to that point with the right fixes.”

Meg Jensen September 28, 2011 at 04:07 AM
What he's really saying is he won't cut military, won't tax millionaires, but would rather cut Social Security and Medicare. That is exactly what he's voted for. It should be noted that some (though not all) of those "job creators" paid zero corporate taxes while pocketing billions in profits--by creating jobs overseas and even sheltered assets offshore to avoid paying taxes while calling themselves American companies. How is that benefiting ordinary Americans in this district?
Steve Sund September 28, 2011 at 04:11 AM
I'll gladly take his $174k salary and pay taxes on it. How many jobs has he created with the money he makes?
Things I Learned September 28, 2011 at 07:08 AM
We can keep corporations from hiring "foreigners" by taxing their offshore assets as income.
Jeff Harrison September 28, 2011 at 03:49 PM
So he's not a millionaire politician. What’s the problem?
Sherry Howard September 28, 2011 at 06:42 PM
Hunter has moved into the "comfortable seat" role (like Boxer and Feinstein), believing that he cannot be defeated in any upcoming election in which he may participate. He is not worried about what anyone says or exposes about him because he feels he is an untouchable. After just reading his stance on legal/illegal immigration, he no longer has a supporter in me. Let the flip-flopping begin!


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