California GOP Congressman To Plead Guilty to Campaign Fund Misuse

A California Republican congressman says he will plead guilty to one count of misuse of campaign funds during a federal court hearing Tuesday in San Diego. 

Rep. Duncan Hunter. (Source: Screencap from KUSI video).Rep. Duncan Hunter. (Source: Screencap from KUSI).Rep. Duncan Hunter made the announcement Monday in an exclusive interview on KUSI News. Hunter indicated in the interview he would step down. 

Hunter, 42, and his wife Margaret, 44, were indicted by a federal grand jury in August 2018 on 60 charges they allegedly used $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for a long list of personal expenses, including plane tickets and vacations, and filed false campaign finance records with the Federal Election Commission. 

For more than a year, Hunter — an early supporter of President Donald Trump — has denied wrongdoing, claiming he was a victim of a “deep state” witch hunt

But in June 2019 his wife took a plea deal, which called for her to testify against her husband. In the plea agreement, she admitted in court that she and her husband “knowingly and willfully used campaign funds as their personal bank account for years.”

In a motion filed in June to admit additional evidence, prosecutors accused Hunter of using campaign funds to “pursue personal relationships,” including spending money on “solo getaways” with a lobbyist. 

Hunter told KUSI he was agreeing to the plea for the sake of his children, saying it was time for them “to live outside the spotlight.” 

“I think it’s important that people know I did make mistakes. I did not properly monitor or account for my campaign money,” he told KUSI.

Hunter said he is prepared to serve some time, though hopes his wife will not be incarcerated. “I think my kids need a mom in the home,” he said. 

The couple faced up to decades in prison, if convicted on all counts. 

Hunter was first elected to the US House of Representatives in 2008, representing California’s 52nd — later renumbered to 50th — congressional district. He was narrowly re-elected to his sixth term in 2018 after being indicted. 

He was campaigning for his seventh term when he announced he would change his plea. 

Hunter’s departure will mark the end of a political dynasty in which he and his father represented the district for almost 40 years. Duncan Hunter Sr. was elected to the seat in 1980 and held it until his son won it in 2008.