Duncan Hunter resigns after pleading guilty to misusing campaign funds

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) speaks to embers of the media after walking out of Federal Courthouse on December 3, 2019 in San Diego, California.

Sandy Huffaker | Getty Images

California Rep. Duncan Hunter resigned from Congress Tuesday after pleading guilty to a single felony count of misuse of campaign funds in December.

His resignation is effective Jan. 13.

In his resignation letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Hunter touted his accomplishments in Congress, saying he “had the privilege of helping thousands of individuals in my district.”

“Perhaps the contribution I am most proud of is giving a voice to our men and women in uniform,” he wrote in his letter. “As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I brought attention to inefficient military programs and worked to make sure our war fighters had the resources they needed to carry out their mission.”

Hunter had teased for weeks that he would resign “shortly after the holidays” but never specified a date. The House Ethics Committee sent him a letter on Dec. 5 advising him to avoid voting in the House of Representatives going forward.

The panel’s letter said his guilty plea brought a rule into effect that says any member who’s convicted of a crime whose sentence may be at least two years “should refrain from voting on any question at a meeting of the House.”

Hunter has yet to be sentenced, but he faces up to five years in jail.

The House committee also threatened disciplinary action if Hunter ignored the warning and tried to vote. Hunter continued to receive his taxpayer-funded salary even after submitting his guilty plea, which is about $477 per day, according to the Huffington Post.

Hunter, who represented California’s 50th Congressional District, and his wife were charged with 60 criminal counts of campaign finance violations in August 2018. They faced allegations of spending campaign funds on personal items such as vacations, gas and groceries.

Federal Election Commission finance rules prohibit using campaign funds for personal use. Hunter initially denied any wrongdoing, pleading not guilty and labeling his prosecution a “witch hunt.”

In an interview with KUSI News when he announced his plan to change his plea, Hunter said, “I think it’s important that people know that I did make mistakes. I did not properly monitor or account for my campaign money. I justify my plea with the understanding that I am responsible for my own campaign and my own campaign money.”

Margaret Hunter, his wife and former campaign treasurer, took a plea deal earlier this year. She admitted to her role in the scandal and agreed to testify against her husband. That put pressure on the congressman to strike his own deal.

Hunter, 43, was first elected to his seat in 2008. He won again in November 2018 with 51.7% of the vote, despite facing indictment.

His family has served in Congress for decades. Hunter’s father was in the House for 28 years before him.

Leave a Reply