Rep. Duncan Hunter to abandon 'not guilty' plea in campaign finance scandal

Morgan Cook and Jeff McDonald, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Political News

Margaret Hunter, 44, changed her plea in June to guilty to a single count of conspiracy and agreed to testify against her husband. She faces up to five years in prison when she is sentenced in April, but is likely to serve substantially less time.

The couple has three children.

According to the indictment, the Hunters relied or years on campaign contributions to pay routine family expenses such as dental bills, home repairs and fast-food meals. They also used the donations to pay for exotic vacations, private-school tuition, video games and plane tickets for Margaret's mother to travel to and from Poland.

The Hunters used more than $500 in campaign funds to fly the family's pet rabbit, Eggburt, across the country with them, Margaret Hunter admitted in her plea agreement.

The initial indictment also alluded to several unnamed "individuals" who appeared to have more than professional relationships with Duncan Hunter.

Earlier this year, as the congressman continued to deny his guilt and prosecutors disclosed more of their evidence in public court filings, it became clear that Hunter had extramarital affairs with at least five different women over many years -- and paid for them with campaign funds.


Though never identified publicly, three of the women were noted to be lobbyists and two others were reported to be congressional staffers.

According to the July court filings, Hunter used campaign funds to pay for a three-day weekend at a Lake Tahoe with one woman who was not his wife. On another occasion, he used political donations to pay for a stay at the Liaison Capitol Hill hotel in Washington D.C., records show.

The indictment also said that Hunter and his wife were well aware that their use of the campaign donations was questionable.

Their joint bank account was overdrawn more than 1,100 times over the six-plus years of records examined by prosecutors and the couple racked up some $36,000 in overdraft penalties -- fees they paid using campaign funds, the indictment stated.


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