Congressman Duncan Hunter to Plead Guilty in Corruption Case

Bill Callahan

(Bloomberg) -- Congressman Duncan Hunter, the San Diego Republican and Marine combat veteran, is set to be plead guilty to a criminal conspiracy charge more than a year after he and his wife were accused of spending almost $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses.

Hunter made a deal with federal prosecutors, his lawyer, Paul Pfingst, said Monday. Details of what sentence he might face, and whether that will include prison time, will be discussed at a hearing Tuesday, the attorney said. Prosecutors declined to comment.

“I think it’s important not to have a public trial for three reasons and those three reasons are my kids,” Hunter told KUSI News, a San Diego TV station, in an interview. “It’s hard enough being the kids of a public figure. I think it’s time for them to live life outside the spotlight.”

His office declined to comment further. Hunter signaled in the TV interview that he’ll resign from Congress -- after winning re-election last year following his indictment -- but said his office will remain open to field constituent concerns.

“It’s been a privilege to serve in Congress for 11 years, three tours in the Marine Corps and the wars,” he said. “So I think we’ve done a lot of great tings for the nation.”

He was accused in a 60-count grand jury indictment of using campaign funds to entertain several women with whom he’d had affairs, pay for a family vacation to Italy and finance tuition for his children at private schools. Hunter’s wife, Margaret Hunter, reached a plea bargain with prosecutors in July to admit to one criminal charge and agreed to cooperate with the government in the case against her husband.

Hunter was among the first members of Congress to back Donald Trump when he ran for president, before it became clear Trump would be the Republican Party’s nominee. The earliest Trump supporter in the House, New York Republican Representative Chris Collins, pleaded guilty to insider-trading charges in October just hours after his resignation from office took effect.

“Voters across this country are calling for a change from Washington’s culture of corruption and Rep. Duncan Hunter’s admission of guilt is a fitting reminder that at least two admitted criminals have called the Republican House Caucus in Washington home for years,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement.

Hunter represents California’s 50th congressional district, covering the southern part of the state, notably parts of San Diego and Riverside counties. His father was a House member who represented much of the same area before him.

The case is U.S. v. Hunter, 18-cr-3677, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).

(Updates with Hunter’s office declining to comment.)

--With assistance from Erik Wasson.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bill Callahan in San Diego at bcallahan18@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: David Glovin at dglovin@bloomberg.net, Peter Blumberg, Joe Schneider

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.