Rep. Duncan Hunter, who pleaded guilty this week to a federal felony count for misusing $250,000 in campaign funds, announced Friday his impending resignation from Congress will take place sometime “after the holidays.”
Hunter, an Alpine Republican whose district stretches into southwestern Riverside County, faces a potential five-year prison sentence. He previously stated in a television interview that he would step down and that there would be a “seamless transition to whoever takes this seat next,” but Friday afternoon’s announcement provided a clearer timeline for his resignation.
“Shortly after the holidays I will resign from Congress,” his statement read. “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.”
Hunter, who had planned to seek another term in the November 2020 election, is scheduled to be sentenced March 17.
The 42-year-old former Marine was indicted along with Margaret Hunter, his wife on five dozen criminal counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records, and had been facing a Jan. 22 trial date.
Margaret Hunter, 44, pleaded guilty in June to a conspiracy charge and agreed to work with prosecutors on the case. She faces up to five years in federal custody and a fine of up to $250,000 when she is sentenced in April.
Hunter told KUSI earlier this week that while he expects to spend time in custody, he hopes that his wife will not be incarcerated as “I think my kids need a mom in the home.”
Prosecutors said Hunter and his wife went on expensive family trips and made scores of other improper personal purchases over the course of six years. Supposedly campaign-related events were planned around their family vacations in order to justify the expenses, prosecutors said.
It was also alleged that Hunter used campaign funds to pursue extramarital affairs and repeatedly used campaign credit cards or sought reimbursement for expenses that included resort hotel rooms, airfare, a skiing trip and Uber rides to and from the homes of five women with whom he had “intimate relationships.”
Hunter had repeatedly maintained his innocence and accused the U.S. Attorney’s Office of a politically motivated prosecution. He maintained that two prosecutors on the case attended a La Jolla campaign event for then-Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton in 2015, then indicted him two months before the 2018 election due to his public endorsement of Donald Trump.
Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who is seeking the 50th District seat, criticized Hunter’s timing.
“By intentionally delaying his resignation past the deadline for the calling of a special election, Congressman Duncan Hunter is silencing the voice of the voters of the 50th District for a full year in Congress,” DeMaio said. “The voters of the 50th District deserve having their voice back in Congress as soon as possible and only a special election can give the voters a voice again. I urge Congressman Hunter to reconsider the timing of his resignation to provide a better and more expeditious transition of his office.”
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