Calif. Rep.'s Wife Pleads Guilty In Campaign Fund Case

Duncan Hunter arrives for an appearance at federal court in San Diego California

Duncan Hunter arrives for an appearance at federal court in San Diego California

Almost a year after U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter suggested his wife was to blame for their alleged misuse of campaign funds, Margaret Hunter was headed to court Thursday to change her not guilty plea, which could pave the way for her to testify against her husband. Prosecutors said that the congressman obtained a credit card tied to his campaign funds for his wife, "recognizing that she would spend campaign funds for the Hunters' personal benefit".

She faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine at her September sentencing. We also added a statement provided by her attorneys.

The move suggests she is cooperating with the prosecution and might even testify against her husband. As part of the deal, she has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors as they continue to work their case against her husband, and to testify in any grand jury proceedings or trial that she is asked to.

Duncan, 42, and Margaret, 44, were accused in the full indictment of taking money from campaign coffers as if they were personal bank accounts and falsifying Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports to cover their tracks. "But as demonstrated this morning in entering the plea, I have taken the first step to face those consequences".

"I am deeply remorseful and I whine regret", she acknowledged.

"I am saddened for the hurt that I have caused my family and others", the statement continued. From 2009 to 2016, the couple used $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for personal expenses, including a $10,000 trip to Italy and plane tickets for their pet rabbit, Eggburt.

They also used the dough for shopping sprees, to play golf and on private school tuition for their kids, Hunter admitted.

Margaret Hunter, who previously served as the paid treasurer for her husband's campaigns, twice used political donations to pay for airfare to Warsaw, Poland, for her mother, according to the indictment. "She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did, that'll be looked at, too, I'm sure, but I didn't do it".

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter's wife Margaret Hunter leaves the federal court with her attorney, Thomas McNamara (R) in San Diego, California, U.S., June 13, 2019.

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"I do not have the full details of Margaret's case, but it's obvious that the Department of Justice went after her to get to me for political reasons", he said. "I am the congressman, this is my campaign and any further attention on this issue should be directed exclusively to me".

"It was politically motivated at the beginning; it remains politically motivated now", he said.

"At this time, that does not change anything regarding Congressman Hunter", the GOP lawmaker's defense attorney, Gregory Vega, told the San Diego Tribune. The congressman, a close ally of President Donald Trump, said after he was indicted that the Justice Department was "the Democrats' arm of law enforcement". "There are still significant motions that need to be litigated".

Rep. Hunter has denied all wrongdoing. It's also notable that, despite the charges, Hunter was re-elected in November although it was by a somewhat narrower margin than he has seen in the past. The couple remain legally married and have three children. "From Alpine residents who voted against Hunter in 2018, to Republican leaders who stripped him from his committee assignments, to Mrs. Hunter parting with the congressman's not guilty plea: Those who know Hunter the most, trust him the least".

Vega did not respond to questions about spousal privilege.

He said Thursday that the case should have been handled by the Federal Election Commission and alleged USA prosecutors indicted him and his wife ahead of the November elections "to inflict as much political damage as possible in hopes of picking up a congressional seat".

To try to hide vacations funded by campaign cash, prosecutors said Hunter would schedule meetings or events that supposedly were campaign-related but sometimes never occurred.

Good luck with that one, Duncan. He ultimately repaid the fund about $60,000.

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