After denying for over a year that he and his wife had illegally spent over $250,000 in campaign money for personal expenses like vacations, dinners, school tuition, and a variety of household uses, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) told a California television station on Monday that he will change his plea to 'guilty' in a Tuesday hearing before a federal judge in California.
“It’s important not to have a public trial for three reasons, and those three reasons are my kids,” Hunter said in an interview with KUSI-TV., as the Congressman says he will plead guilty to one count of misusing campaign funds.
Tuesday's court hearing was originally set as a 'status' hearing on the corruption case, but in a docket posting on Monday, that suddenly had become a "Change of Plea Hearing" for the California Republican.
Back in June, the GOP Congressman's wife, Margaret Hunter, had changed her plea to 'guilty,' turning up the heat even more on the Republican Congressman from San Diego, who had long claimed a federal investigation into his campaign contributions was politically motivated.
"We are seeing this with President Trump, we are seeing this with my case," Hunter said, as he denounced the Justice Department investigation.
#KUSINews Exclusive: Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (@Rep_Hunter) announces that he will plead guilty to one count of misuse of campaign funds.— KUSI News (@KUSINews) December 2, 2019
Full Interview: https://t.co/Me55QGHNoZ pic.twitter.com/tZsRcZjO2C
"This is the new Department of Justice - this is the Democrats' arm of law enforcement," Hunter told reporters when he was arraigned, alleging political bias against a Republican by President Trump's Administration.
"The investigation of Congressman Hunter by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California began shortly after his public endorsement of candidate Trump," Hunter's lawyers wrote in one of a series of evidence challenges, alleging that two prosecutors involved in the case were supporters of Hillary Clinton.
But the facts of the case never bore out Hunter's claim - instead it showed how Hunter had used campaign money 'to carry out a series of intimate relationships' with a series of women who were not his wife.
+ Individual 14 - a lobbyist,
+ Individual 15 - a staffer who worked in the office of a member of the House leadership,
+ Individual 16 - a staffer in his Congressional office,
+ Individual 17 - a lobbyist,
+ Individual 18 - a lobbyist.
The evidence produced by federal investigators included a lengthy tally of how campaign money was spent on dinners, vacations, school tuition for Hunter's children, concerts, and a variety of personal items.
A reminder of what Hunter and his wife had been charged with - misusing over $250,000 in campaign funds, and using the money instead for personal items like travel, dinners, groceries, school tuition, and more pic.twitter.com/qzw9x2KyTG— Jamie Dupree (@jamiedupree) December 2, 2019
Hunter originally plead 'not guilty' back on August 23, 2018, when he was met by protesters outside the courthouse, who chanted, "Lock him up!"
Hunter would be the second early supporter in Congress of President Trump to plead guilty to major criminal charges - Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) resigned from Congress in September just before pleading guilty over insider trading allegations.