Former Rep. Hunter to serve sentence at Texas prison

Politics

SAN DIEGO — Former Rep. Duncan Hunter will serve his 11-month prison sentence for misusing campaign funds at a facility in West Texas, his attorney told the San Diego Union-Tribune Friday.

According to the paper’s Andrew Dyer, Hunter will report to Federal Correctional Institute La Tuna, in the El Paso suburb of Anthony, on Jan. 4. He will serve in a minimum-security satellite camp, according to CQ Roll Call.

Alan Ellis, a federal criminal defense lawyer who writes the Federal Prison Guidebook, told Roll Call that the move to send Hunter somewhere a 10-hour drive from home isn’t uncommon for high-profile cases like the ex-congressman’s, and may be designed to get him out of his “sphere of influence.”

Hunter admitted to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars for family vacations, restaurant and bar tabs, clothes and other frivolous expenses over the course of several years, while falsely stating to his staff that the purchases were campaign-related.

Hunter’s wife and former campaign manager, Margaret, also pleaded guilty last year to misusing campaign funds. The couple were charged in 2018 in a 60-count indictment.

Prosecutors say the Hunters were “virtually penniless” and amid dire financial straits, resorted to using campaign credit cards to support “a profligate lifestyle leading to continual debt and an ever-increasing need to find cash to pay bills,” according to a prosecutor’s sentencing memorandum.

Despite the family bank account not carrying a positive balance throughout any single month between 2009 and 2017, prosecutors say the family lived extravagantly, racking up thousands on expensive family trips and scores of other improper personal purchases, according to the memorandum.

It was also alleged that Hunter used campaign funds to pursue extramarital affairs and 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.”

Hunter, who had planned to seek another term, repeatedly and publicly denied wrongdoing and accused the U.S. Attorney’s Office of a politically motivated prosecution. He maintained that two prosecutors on the case attended a La Jolla campaign event for then- Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton in 2015, then indicted him two months before the 2018 election due to his public endorsement of Donald Trump.

Hunter pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court last Dec. 3, and in a brief statement to reporters, said “I failed to monitor and account for my campaign spending. I made mistakes and that was what today was all about.”

The congressman said in a television interview that he was taking the plea deal for the sake of his three children.

He resigned from Congress in January. Read about the race to replace him in the FOX 5 Voter Guide.

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