Duncan Hunter admits misusing campaign funds, expected to resign

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SAN DIEGO -- Rep. Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty to one count of misusing campaign funds Tuesday, after months of denials and accusations that the charges against him were politically motivated.

The congressman faces a maximum sentence of five years when his penalty is set on March 17.

In a 60-count federal indictment made public in August 2018, Hunter was accused of improperly making personal purchases with campaign funds over the course of six years.

He is accused of using more than $250,000 from his campaign war chest for expenses ranging from family doctor appointments to vacations and expensive dinners. In other cases, federal prosecutors accused Hunter of using campaign funds to pursue extramarital affairs.

The congressman's charges included wire fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records.

Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to convert campaign funds to personal use. As part of his plea deal, the remaining counts against him were dismissed.

Hunter had previously called the charges patently false and the result of "leftist, government folks throwing allegations at me." He pleaded not guilty in August 2018.

In October, Hunter told FOX 5 that he would remain in the race to continue representing the 50th Congressional District, which includes a large portion of eastern San Diego County. But Monday, Hunter made public his plans to abandon the not-guilty plea and hinted that he would resign.

Outside the courthouse Tuesday, prosecutors said that Hunter stepping down from his position was not negotiated as part of a plea deal, but "it was understood from the defense team that he would in fact resign."

Former Rep. Darrell Issa, former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and state Sen. Brian Jones were among the Republicans already vying for Hunter's seat in a primary.

Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, who captured 48.3% of the vote when he lost his race with Hunter in 2018, is also running for the seat.

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