Duncan Hunter announces plan to resign
Embattled California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) announced on Friday he plans to resign from his seat.
The announcement comes in the wake of the lawmaker’s decision to reverse course and plead guilty to charges of campaign finance violations. The move came months after Hunter’s wife and former campaign treasurer, Margaret Hunter, opted to change her plea to guilty earlier this year.
“Shortly after the Holidays, I will resign from Congress. It has been an honor to serve the people of California’s 50th District, and I greatly appreciate the trust they have put in me over these last 11 years,” he said in a statement.
Hunter received a letter from the House Ethics Committee on Thursday asserting he was no longer allowed to vote due to a House rule that bars lawmakers who face a potential prison sentence that exceeds two or more years. The congressman was last present at votes on Wednesday.
The Hunters were indicted in August 2018 on charges of misusing at least $250,000 in campaign funds.
The indictment included accusations that Duncan Hunter used the funds to purchase trips to Europe and Hawaii, pay for his family’s dental work and school tuition and to fly the family’s pet rabbit across the country. Funds were also spent on “fast food, movie tickets, golf outings, video games, coffee, groceries, home utilities, and expensive meals,” according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Following the indictment, additional allegations emerged that the congressman used campaign funds during the course of five different extramarital affairs with congressional staffers and lobbyists.
Hunter also allegedly falsified campaign records filed to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in an attempt to conceal the purchases by mischaracterizing the expenses as “‘campaign travel,’ ‘dinner with volunteers/contributors,’ ‘toy drives,’ ‘teacher/parent and supporter events,’ ‘gift cards’ for charitable donations, and ‘gift basket items,’ among other false descriptions,” according to DOJ.
The indictment also states that the family had less than $1,000 in reportable assets between 2009 and 2016, having overdrawn their bank accounts more than 1,100 times “resulting in approximately $37,761 in “overdraft” and “insufficient funds” bank fees.
Shortly after the indictment last year, Hunter, who gained notoriety after vaping during a congressional hearing, was removed from his committee assignments.
Hunter only pled guilty to one of the 60 counts against him, having told KUSI News he is ready to accept whatever sentence the court sees fit but hopes his wife does not have to serve time. The trial was expected to take place in January.
“No. 1, not a single dime of taxpayer money is involved in this. The plea that I accepted was misuse of my own campaign funds, of which I pled guilty to only one count. I think it’s important that people know that I did make mistakes,” Hunter said in an interview with the local California news station on Monday.
“Whatever my time in custody is, I will take that hit. My only hope is that the judge does not sentence my wife to jail. I think my kids need a mom in the home.”
Despite his legal troubles, Hunter managed to hold onto his 50th District seat despite California facing a blue wave during the 2018 midterms.
Hunter, a former Marine, was first elected to the seat previously held by his father in 2008. Republicans have expressed optimism the district, rated an R+11 by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, will remain in GOP hands.
—Updated at 6:15 p.m.