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Wife of Rep. Duncan Hunter pleads guilty in federal case

Posted at 1:49 PM, Jun 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-14 02:22:48-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Margaret Hunter, the wife of Rep. Duncan Hunter, changed her plea to guilty to one count of conspiracy in a plea deal with the federal government over misused campaign funds Thursday.

As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, Margaret Hunter will testify against her husband in his upcoming trial in September.

The congressman and his wife both pleaded not guilty in 2018 to federal charges of using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use and falsifying campaign finance reports.

"Defendant agrees to plead guilty to Count One of the Indictment charging her with conspiring with co-defendant Duncan D. Hunter to knowingly and willfully convert Duncan D. Hunter for Congress Campaign Committee funds to personal use by using them to fulfill personal commitments, obligations and expenses would have existed irrespective of Hunter's election campaign and duties as a federal officeholder, in amounts of $25,000 and more in a calendar year," the plea deal states.

Those expenses include a $14,000 family vacation to Italy and a $650 Easter brunch at the Hotel del Coronado.


Through her attorney, Margaret Hunter apologized for her actions through her attorney outside Federal Court on Thursday.

"I understand that there will be more consequences stemming from my actions, but as demonstrated this morning with the entry of the plea, I have taken the first step in facing those consequences," said Tom McNamara, her attorney, in a prepared statement.

According to an affidavit, Hunter allegedly spent the money on expenses like vacations, dental work, tuition, movie tickets, video games and home utilities, among other things.

The affidavit goes on to allege that the Hunters lied about the purchases in FEC filings, claiming the money was used for things like dinner with volunteers or campaign contributors, toy drives and teacher/parent events.

Rep. Duncan Hunter issued a statement which reads:

"I do not have the full details of Margaret’s case, but it's obvious that the Department of Justice (DOJ) went after her to get to me for political reasons. As Margaret’s case concludes, she should be left alone. I am the Congressman, this is my campaign and any further attention on this issue should be directed solely to me. The DOJ’s prosecutorial actions in this case were led by local U.S. Attorneys who attended Hillary Clinton fundraisers in violation of the Hatch Act. The fact remains that this entire matter should have been handled by the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). The DOJ purposely choosing to involve itself in the area where the FEC has primary jurisdiction reveals that their primary agenda was to inflict as much political damage as possible in hopes of picking up a congressional seat. It was politically-motivated at the beginning, it remains politically-motivated now."

A trial date was set for September 10, 2019, but that is expected to change following this morning’s court appearance.

A conviction would not force Hunter out of office. It takes a two-thirds house vote to do that, meaning 55 Republicans would have to move the same.

San Diego Political Analyst John Dadian said he believes Hunter would be expelled if convicted. He added President Trump could pardon him, but it would likely be after the 2020 election. Meanwhile, he said East County Republicans are preparing to file to run if they see an opening.

Margaret Hunter is set to be sentenced Sept. 16.