SAN DIEGO — A San Diego federal judge Monday pushed back Rep. Duncan Hunter’s trial for alleged misuse of $250,000 in campaign funds by a week, from Jan. 14 to Jan. 22.
U.S. District Judge Thomas J. Whelan changed the date at the request of Hunter’s attorneys, who are seeking to have Whelan’s prior ruling against dismissing the case overturned by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
On July 8, Whelan denied Hunter’s requests to dismiss the 60-count indictment and to have prosecutors on the case recused due to alleged political bias. The judge also denied Hunter’s request to have the trial moved outside of San Diego.
Attorney Devin Burnstein had sought a two-week delay of the trial date.
Whelan said the case “has been going on for a while,” and that he wants it “resolved for both Hunter’s and the voters’ sake.”
Hunter, a Republican who represents the 50th Congressional District, and his father attended Monday morning’s hearing, but neither had any comments regarding the case against the 42-year-old lawmaker, though he did tell reporters that he was not going to attend the upcoming appeal hearing.
Hunter was indicted along with his wife on five dozen criminal counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy, and falsification of records, accusing them of making scores of improper personal purchases with campaign funds over the course of six years.
Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty in June to a conspiracy charge and faces up to five years in federal custody and a fine of up to $250,000. She agreed to work with prosecutors on the case and could eventually testify against her husband.
Duncan Hunter, who has repeatedly maintained his innocence and contends his prosecution is politically motivated, was re-elected last November with 51.7% of the vote in his district, despite being indicted three months before the election. He was first elected in 2008, succeeding his father, who held the congressional seat for 28 years.
Hunter is accused of using campaign on personal expenses, including to pursue extramarital affairs with lobbyists and congressional aides, beginning shortly after he took office in 2009. Prosecutors allege he repeatedly used campaign credit cards or sought reimbursement for expenses that included resort hotel rooms, airfare, a skiing trip and Uber rides to and from the homes of five women with whom he had “intimate relationships.”