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Rep. Duncan Hunter scheduled to change plea in campaign finance case

Posted: 11:11 AM, Dec 02, 2019
Updated: 2019-12-02 21:07:19-05
Supporters gather to hear Rep. Duncan Hunter

(KGTV) -- San Diego-based Rep. Duncan Hunter, facing numerous charges of campaign finance misuse, is scheduled to change his plea to guilty on Tuesday.

According to a listing posted Monday on the U.S. District Court docket, the Republican congressman is set to appear in federal court at 10 a.m. Tuesday for a “Change of Plea Hearing” before Judge Thomas Whelan.

In an interview with San Diego TV station KUSI , Hunter said he would plead guilty to only one count of misusing his own campaign funds.

Hunter could face a jail term of between 8-14 months, and he won't be able to own a firearm and may not be able to vote.

"My trial was set for January 22 -- that's not going to happen now. Tomorrow, on Tuesday, I'm going to change my plea to guilty. I think it's important not to have a public trial for three reasons, and those three reasons are my kids ... It's been a privilege to serve in Congress for 11 years, three tours in the Marine Corps in the wars. I think we've done a lot of great things for the nation."

"I think it's important for people to know that I did make mistakes. I did not properly monitor or account for my campaign money. I justify that plea with the understanding that I am responsible for my campaign and what happens to my campaign money," Hunter told KUSI's Steve Bosh.

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Concerning his congressional seat, Hunter told KUSI that it would be “passed off to whoever takes the seat next. We’ll make sure it’s a seamless transition.”

Hunter’s decision to potentially change his plea comes after several months of public denials of wrongdoing. He and his wife Margaret were indicted in August 2018 on dozens of criminal counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records.

The Hunters were accused of misusing $250,000 in campaign contributions on personal expenses, lavish vacations and other purchases.

Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty in June 2019 and agreed to testify against her husband.

Last November, Hunter held off a challenge from Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar and was re-elected to remain the 50th District congressman.

Campa-Najjar and Republicans Darrell Issa and Carl DeMaio are among the candidates vying for the 50th District seat.

In reaction to Hunter's change of plea, DeMaio said: “While this must have been a tough decision for him, Congressman Hunter’s decision to plead guilty is the right one for his family and his constituents and shows that no one should be above the law - especially Members of Congress. My thoughts and prayers are with the Hunter family as they go through this difficult process.”