That Other California Congressional Scandal
No, not Katie Hill, who made a good run at the biggest scandal in the Cali delegation but fell short to Duncan Hunter. The still Representative of CA-50 will reportedly change his “not guilty” plea Tuesday in court.
The change of plea, if entered and accepted by the judge, also would close the complicated appeal that Hunter filed earlier this year. In an unusual move, the East County congressman appealed his prosecution in July to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal even before his trial opened.
Hunter, who will turn 43 on Saturday, and his wife were charged in August 2018 with 60 criminal counts related to their use of Hunter’s campaign contributions and each faced decades in prison if convicted on all charges.
Both pleaded not guilty to the charges when they were arraigned.
Margaret Hunter, 44, changed her plea in June to guilty to a single count of conspiracy and agreed to testify against her husband. She faces up to five years in prison when she is sentenced in April, but is likely to serve substantially less time.
The couple has three children.
According to the indictment, the Hunters relied for years on campaign contributions to pay routine family expenses such as dental bills, home repairs and fast-food meals. They also used the donations to pay for exotic vacations, private-school tuition, video games and plane tickets for Margaret’s mother to travel to and from Poland.
The Hunters used more than $500 in campaign funds to fly the family’s pet rabbit, Eggburt, across the country with them, Margaret Hunter admitted in her plea agreement.
The initial indictment also alluded to several unnamed “individuals” who appeared to have more than professional relationships with Duncan Hunter.
Earlier this year, as the congressman continued to deny his guilt and prosecutors disclosed more of their evidence in public court filings, it became clear that Hunter had extramarital affairs with at least five different women over many years — and paid for them with campaign funds.
Though never identified publicly, three of the women were noted to be lobbyists and two others were reported to be congressional staffers.
Hunter is still in Congress but has been stripped of all committee assignments and is not being endorsed or supported by the Republican Party, drawing strong candidates looking to take his seat.