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Trump pardons former lawmaker who spent campaign funds on Steam games

Former congressman avoids prison, cannot be tried again

Duncan Hunter Sentenced After Pleading Guilty Over Corruption Charge
Former Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) walks into the Edward J. Edward J. Schwartz Federal Courthouse to be sentenced on corruption charges on March 17, 2020 in San Diego, California.
Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

United States congressman Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty last year to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds. In March, he was sentenced to 11 months in federal prison. What made his story especially comical was how brazen the fraud had been. Among the items listed in the indictment were European vacations for his family, stays at luxury hotels, plane tickets for his family’s pet rabbits, and $1,302 in Steam games.

On Monday, Hunter was fully pardoned by President Donald Trump. He will serve no prison time, and he cannot be tried for those crimes again. Hunter was due to report to Federal Correctional Institution La Tuna, a low-security prison camp in Texas, on Jan. 4.

Trump has less than one month remaining in his term, which ends on Jan. 20. More pardons — including for members of the Trump family and for himself — are expected before that time.

Others granted pardons by the President on Monday include two politicians who were variously convicted of insider trading, money laundering, and wire fraud while in office. Trump’s former campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, who pleaded guilty lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, was also pardoned.

Finally, the President pardoned four mercenaries from the Blackwater organization who were convicted by a U.S. jury for the unprovoked killing of Iraqi civilians. Blackwater is a military contractor that worked for the United States government in multiple conflict areas around the world — and which worked with 505 Games to produce a widely derided video game for the Xbox 360. It was founded by Erik Prince, the brother of the Trump administration’s Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.

DeVos, of course, spent much of 2018 trying to determine what video games, the entertainment industry, and social media had to do with school shootings. Experts recommended that she consider the role that firearms play instead.