California congressman Duncan Hunter announces resignation after
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[December 07, 2019]
By Dan Whitcomb and Jill Serjeant
(Reuters) - U.S. Representative Duncan
Hunter will resign from Congress following his guilty plea to a federal
charge of conspiring to misuse campaign funds, he said on Friday.
Hunter's announcement that he would step down came days after the
leading California lawmaker, a former U.S. Marine Corps combat veteran,
entered his guilty plea in federal court in San Diego.
"Shortly after the Holidays I will resign from Congress," Hunter, 42,
said in a written statement released by his communications director.
"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, a Republican, said in the statement.
Hunter faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, but his attorney
has said prosecutors have agreed to recommend significantly less time.
The Ethics Committee of the House of Representatives on Thursday told
Hunter he should not vote on any matter before Congress while still in
office and could face disciplinary action if he ignored that warning.
"This provision of House Rules was promulgated to preserve public
confidence in the legislative process when a sitting member of Congress
has been convicted of a serious crime," the committee said in a letter
The lawmaker 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, lavish travel,
expensive meals, groceries and clothing.
Hunter, an early supporter of President Donald Trump, had originally
pleaded not guilty in the case and insisted he was the victim of a
politically motivated prosecution. He changed his plea to guilty on
Tuesday, saying he wanted to spare his family the stress of a trial.
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U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter arrives at court where he was
expected to plead guilty to federal charges stemming from
allegations that he and his wife misused campaign funds in San
Diego, California, U.S., December 3, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Sentencing has been set for March 17 in the high-profile case.
Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty in June to conspiring to misuse
campaign funds, and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in the
case. She has yet to be sentenced.
The corruption scandal has been seen as giving a boost to Democrats'
bid to seize California's traditionally Republican 50th
Hunter's 2018 Democratic challenger, former Obama administration
aide Ammar Campa-Najjar, was defeated in last year's race despite
the incumbent's indictment.
But the guilty plea could play more to Democrats' favor in 2020,
where the party already holds a heavy majority of California's 53
U.S. House of Representatives seats.
(Reporting by Makini Brice in Washington and Jill Serjeant, Steve
Gorman and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Chris Reese, Bill
Berkrot and Richard Chang)
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