POLITICS

Rep. Duncan Hunter Resigns After Pleading Guilty To Stealing Campaign Donations

The California Republican's resignation, effective Jan. 13, comes a month after he admitted to using $250,000 in campaign funds for lavish personal expenses.

Rep. Duncan Hunter submitted his resignation Tuesday, about a month after the California Republican pleaded guilty to a federal charge of conspiring to misuse campaign funds.

In December, Hunter told his constituents in California’s 50th District that he was planning to announce his resignation from Congress “shortly after the holidays.” His resignation will be effective Jan. 13.

“Since the day I joined the Marines in the aftermath of 9/11, I have had the honor of serving my country, both at home and abroad,” Hunter wrote in his resignation letter. “After three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, I was elected to the House and brought with me the lessons I learned during my service in the Marine Corps and the values instilled by my father who held this seat before me. Growing up in East County San Diego, I learned from an early age the importance of liberty, the value of patriotism, and what a strong and secure border can bring to a community.

“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 added.

Hunter and his wife, Margaret Hunter, were indicted in August 2018 on charges of misappropriating $250,000 in campaign donations for personal use, including to pay for luxurious family vacations, their children’s private school tuition, expensive meals and airfare for their pet rabbits. He also allegedly used campaign donations to fund his extramarital affairs.

The indicted Republican was reelected to his seat in the 2018 midterm race against progressive Democratic challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar, a candidate of Mexican-Palestinian descent whom Hunter attacked with racist campaign ads.

The congressman, an early supporter of President Donald Trump, initially pleaded not guilty in the corruption case and insisted that he was the victim of a politically motivated “witch hunt.” He claimed that the stealing was mainly his wife’s fault and also a bit of his son’s fault.

Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty in June to conspiring to misuse campaign funds and had agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the corruption case.

Duncan Hunter eventually changed his plea to guilty on Dec. 3 on a single federal charge of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds. He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, though his attorney has previously said that prosecutors agreed to recommend significantly less time. Sentencing is set for March 17.

Just days after his guilty plea, Hunter announced his plan to resign after the winter holidays without specifying exactly when that would be. Hunter’s salary as a congressman is $174,000 ― more than double his district’s average household income ― which breaks down to about $477 per calendar day. With his resignation effective Jan. 13, that means Hunter will have “worked” 41 days after pleading guilty to stealing donations, earning $19,557.

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