House Ethics Committee Tells Duncan Hunter To Stop Voting In House Due To Guilty Plea

The California Republican faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine after being charged with misappropriating campaign funds.

The House Ethics Committee informed Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) on Thursday that he should refrain from voting on the House floor in the wake of his guilty plea this week in a federal corruption case.

In a letter signed by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), and ranking member, Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), the ethics committee noted a House “code of official conduct” rule that Hunter would violate by continuing to vote.

House Rule XXIII states that a member of the House who has been convicted of a crime that may carry a sentence of two or more years’ imprisonment “should refrain from participation in the business of each committee of which such individual is a member, and a Member should refrain from voting on any question at a meeting of the House or of the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union, unless or until judicial or executive proceedings result in reinstatement of the presumption of the innocence of such Member or until the Member is reelected to the House after the date of such conviction.”

The committee stated that the rule, though not mandatory, was enacted “to preserve public confidence in the legislative process when a sitting Member of Congress has been convicted of a serious crime.”

Hunter pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a single federal charge of conspiring to misuse campaign funds in a corruption case. Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted in 2018 for allegedly misusing $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses, including luxury vacations, dental work, theater tickets and private school tuition for their children.

The felony offense carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing has been set for March 17.

“We emphasize in the strongest possible terms that if you violate the clear principles of this provision ... you risk subjecting yourself to action by this Committee, and by the House, in addition to any other disciplinary action that may be initiated in connection with your criminal activity,” the committee wrote to Hunter.

A representative from Hunter’s office said Thursday that Hunter would discuss the committee’s letter with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and “defer to his direction on the matter.”

Read the full letter below.

This story has been updated with comment from Hunter’s office.