The Hunter political crime family’s occupation of California’s 50th Congressional District will end on Jan. 13 if the final Duncan Hunter (R-Vapeville) fulfills his pledge to resign.
Hunter had previously said he would leave Congress after the holidays. His resignation will take effect Jan. 13, according to a copy of the letter he sent to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday.
Hunter’s resignation represents the end of an era for his family, who have been a political dynasty in Southern California politics for decades. Hunter or his father, Duncan Hunter Sr., have held that San Diego seat since 1980. During his tenure, Hunter Sr. who was called “King of the Earmarks” once was named the most corrupt member of Congress by the non-partisan public interest group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
After pretending to be the victim of a political witch hunt for more than a year, the 43-year-old hunter pleaded guilty on December 3 to one charge of conspiracy with his wife for illegally spending at least $ 150,000 in funds campaign for personal expenses. Among the inappropriate expenses, there was a birthday for her young daughter in a chic California hotel and a social outing with friends in a French bistro in Washington.
Last summer, Margaret Hunter agreed to a plea deal that required her to testify against her husband; the indictment also contained evidence of numerous extramarital affairs that the congressmen had.
Duncan Hunter, however, had maintained his innocence, but finally said he agreed to a deal to save his family, especially his children, from a public trial.
He is expected to be sentenced on March 17. The judge could impose the maximum sentence of five years, but prosecutors have said they will not ask for more than a year in prison. His wife, Margaret Hunter, also pleaded guilty. She should be sentenced in April.
The August 2018 indictment accused Hunter of using $ 200,000 in campaign money to fund family travel, school fees, jewelry, groceries, gas, etc. Prosecutors said that he had also spent the funds on extramarital affairs and flights for his family’s domestic rabbit. According to the indictment, he attempted to cover up the illegal expenses by listing them in federal records as gifts to veterans and other campaign expenses.
The Hunters, who have three children, face recommended prison sentences of 8 to 14 months in the agreements worked out by their lawyers and the Justice Department, although the court is not bound to abide by those plea deals. Hunter is set to be sentenced on March 17.
Hunter — one of the first members of Congress to endorse President Trump — wasn’t seriously challenged for reelection until 2018, when Democrats targeted his seat in the wake of the charges against him. In a seat that Trump carried by 15 points, Hunter survived by only about 3 points.
Holding the 50th District of Congress, which has a Cook Report 11-point Republican registration advantage, will be essential if the party hopes to regain control of the House after losing it to the Democrats in 2018. The district includes ethnically diverse suburbs to the outskirts of San Diego that fade into agricultural and mountainous areas to the east, including a small slice of Riverside County.
Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) does not have to call a special election because the nomination period has closed and it’s an election year, raising the prospect that the seat could remain vacant for the rest of 2020.
Hunter’s seat is sought after by many GOP contenders. They include former congressman Darrell Issa, one of the wealthiest legislators to serve when he represented parts of San Diego County and neighboring Orange County during the Obama administration. Hunter’s father recently approved it. Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego city councilor, currently a local political commentator and radio host, is also in office; and Senator Brian Jones, who points out that he is the only major Republican candidate living in the district east of San Diego.
Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, a 30-year-old former Obama administration official who nearly defeated Hunter in 2018, is expected to emerge largely from the March primary for a confrontation in November.
According to California electoral rules, the two main voters for the March 3 primary advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.