GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter to Resign After Holidays

Steven T. Dennis and Erik Wasson
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GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter to Resign After Holidays

(Bloomberg) -- Republican Representative Duncan Hunter of California said he will resign from Congress “after the holidays” following his guilty plea to a conspiracy charge this week and a warning from the House Ethics Committee not to vote.

“Shortly after the holidays I will resign from Congress,” Hunter said in an emailed statement Friday. “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 was warned Thursday night by the Ethics Committee to no longer vote on the House floor and told he could face additional sanctions. The House has the power to levy fines or even expel members, which requires a two-thirds vote.

“We emphasize in the strongest possible terms that if you violate the clear principles of this provision -- that is for example, by voting in the House, you risk subjecting yourself to action by this committee, and by the House,” the committee told Hunter in a letter.

Hunter will continue to draw a paycheck until he finalizes his resignation.

Sam Mahood, press secretary for the California secretary of state, said that according to the office’s interpretation of state law, it will be up to the governor to decide whether to hold a special election to fill Hunter’s seat.

Mahood said prospective candidates have until Dec. 11 to file to run in the regularly scheduled election in 2020.

Guilty Plea

Hunter, a Republican who represents San Diego, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court to a single count of conspiracy. He had faced a trial on charges that he and his wife spent almost $250,000 in campaign money on personal expenses. He won re-election despite the unfolding campaign finance scandal last year, and the Constitution doesn’t bar convicted people from running for office, even if they’re in prison.

Former Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican who is among those who want to replace Hunter, floated a presidential commutation for Hunter in The San Diego Union Tribune to save the cost of incarceration.

Issa, who didn’t seek re-election in 2018 as his former district turned more Democratic, has indicated he plans to run to replace Hunter in a district that is more comfortably in Republican control.

The office of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy didn’t respond to a request for comment.

--With assistance from Billy House.

To contact the reporters on this story: Steven T. Dennis in Washington at sdennis17@bloomberg.net;Erik Wasson in Washington at ewasson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kevin Whitelaw at kwhitelaw@bloomberg.net, Anna Edgerton, Laurie Asséo

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