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Former California Rep. Duncan Hunter Is Going To Prison After Admitting To Stealing Campaign Funds

Hunter was accused of spending more than $250,000 of his campaign funds on family vacations, theater tickets, and meals for family and friends.

Last updated on March 17, 2020, at 6:42 p.m. ET

Posted on March 17, 2020, at 2:13 p.m. ET

Sandy Huffaker / Getty Images

Former Rep. Duncan Hunter was sentenced Tuesday to 11 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release after admitting to stealing his campaign funds for personal use.

Hunter, a Republican from California, and his wife were first arrested in August 2018 after federal prosecutors accused them of using his campaign funds as a personal bank account, spending more than $250,000 on family vacations, theater tickets, and meals for family and friends. The couple initially pleaded not guilty, and Hunter blamed the misuse of funds on his wife, who had served as his campaign manager.

US District Judge Thomas J. Whelan handed down the sentence after rejecting Hunter's request to serve part or all of his sentence in home confinement and ordered him to surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons by noon May 29.

“Congressman Hunter violated the trust of his supporters by using hundreds of thousands of dollars they donated in good faith to his reelection campaign for personal expenditures,” US Attorney David Leshner said in a statement.

The judge said he refused Hunter's request for home confinement because of “the number of years and the amount of transactions” made such a sentence inappropriate; It wasn’t a single act of theft, but a crime committed repeatedly over almost a decade.

Last summer, Margaret Hunter agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and changed her plea to guilty, admitting to conspiring with her husband to steal the campaign money for their personal benefit. In December, the San Diego–based member of Congress pleaded guilty to one count of misusing campaign funds, saying in an interview with KUSI that he wanted to spare his three children from a public trial.

He resigned from Congress the following month.

Among the allegations by federal prosecutors was that Hunter used campaign money to cover date nights, vacations, and bar tabs of five women with whom he was having affairs. The women were identified as lobbyists and a member of his staff, but lawyers for Hunter said there was a political purpose to the spending. Hunter was simply "mixing business with pleasure," his lawyers argued.

After being indicted, Hunter went on to win reelection in the district he has represented since 2009. It was previously represented by his father, also named Duncan Hunter, for three decades.

Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, who ran for Hunter's seat in 2018, is expected to face former Republican member of Congress Darrell Issa in the November runoff to represent the San Diego district.

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