California Congressman Convicted in Corruption Case to Resign Next Week

U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter, a leading California Republican who pleaded guilty last month to a federal corruption charge of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds, announced on Tuesday that he would resign from office effective Jan. 13.

Hunter, 43, whose conviction set off a scramble within the Republican Party to succeed him while seemingly boosting Democrats’ chances to gain his seat, notified Governor Gavin Newsom and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by letter of his departure date.

The U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran and six-term congressman, an early supporter of President Donald Trump, faces sentencing in March.

Hunter’s letters make no mention of his criminal conviction but instead cite his work in Congress on behalf of the military, war veterans, education and the maritime industry. An aide, Michael Harrison, said the Jan. 13 date held no significance.

Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted in 2018 on charges of misappropriating $250,000 in campaign donations to pay for personal expenses, including their children’s private school tuition, lavish travel, expensive meals at restaurants and clothing.

His wife pleaded guilty and named her spouse a co-conspirator in June, the same month prosecutors alleged in court papers that Hunter had spent campaign funds on extramarital liaisons with five women, all lobbyists or congressional staffers.

After long insisting he was wrongly accused and the victim of a politically motivated prosecution, Hunter pleaded guilty on Dec. 3 to a single count of conspiring to convert campaign funds to personal use.

He did so, Hunter said, to spare his family a trial. At the time, his representatives would only say Hunter would resign “after the holidays.”

Sentencing is set for March 17, and he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Halpern told Reuters last month that if the court abides by prosecutors’ recommendation, Hunter likely “will be doing upwards of 14 months in jail.”

The conviction has set the stage for a wide-open race to succeed Hunter, who won election in 2008 to fill the seat his father had held until his own retirement that year.

Ten candidates for California’s 50th congressional district, which leans heavily Republican, have qualified for the 2020 ballot so far.

Among them are former U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican who previously served in a neighboring district, and Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, who narrowly lost his bid for the seat in 2018 when Hunter was still under indictment.

In California’s open-primary system, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, even if they are from the same party. Democrats already hold a large majority of California’s 53 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

(Reporting by Jennifer McEntee in San Diego; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Culver City, California; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Michael Perry)

Responses

  1. “Even more disappointing because it is from the GOP party, I expected it from the Democrats, I’m really angry when it’s a Republican.” Pale Blue Friend

    I am confused. Did y’all get a bulk discount from IJR on the “Friend” ID? That is very confusing.

    You are confused, too” Pale Blue Friend. Corruption is no more “expected” from Democrats than it is from the American Fascist Party, except in a partisan way the way YOU rhetorically used it.

    In fact, to be a bit more precise, the AFP members are nearly 100% corrupt, while there is a growing number of progressive Democratic Party members who are showing EVERYONE how NOT to be corrupt.

    For example, if any IJR member lives and votes in this California district, YOU have a chance to fight corruption by supporting Ammar Campa-Najjar, a candidate who only takes donations from real people, not lobbyist or PAC money. That is how WE can do our part in fighting corruption.

  2. Geez! I only had to read the headline to say “He can’t be a Republican, can he?”

  3. Why wait to the 13th? Now if we can get the rest of the corrupt politicians in CA, mostly Democrats, to resign. Then there may be hope for CA.

  4. well at least he is paying the price along with loosing family respect. h will serve his time thank goodness

  5. Very disappointing…. I can’t believe how ignorant and stupid one would have to be to think that you can get away with this in public office. Disgusting Behavior in any regard… Particularly disgusting when you are a leader. Even more disappointing because it is from the GOP party, I expected it from the Democrats, I’m really angry when it’s a Republican.

    1. So true; yet nothing but talk has been circulating about AOC, Omar and Tlaib spending campaign money for non-campaign, personal expenses. No doubt there are many, many more DemocRATs with their hand in the till and able to become very wealthy on a political salary (like Commie Bernie who has NEVER held a full time job until he entered politics at age 40 and is now worth well over a million $$$ and owns three houses).

      1. Friend, you are disappointed that this is from the Repubs? Count how many of Trump’s former appointees are in prison? How many (not really counted) has our orange-faced leader of the true world bonking somebody while married to the one he wanted to take part of her “benefits?” For death do all are part) Friend, I do agree with you in one reason to be angry. But because it’s a Republican? You your really you jest.

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