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

All the while, the U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant who served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan before he succeeded his father in Congress in 2009, remained adamant than he did nothing wrong.

His lawyers argued in court as recently as this summer that the campaign spending, including resort stays and meals with girlfriends, legally constituted legislative acts -- meaning they could not be prosecuted as crimes under the speech or debate clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The questions surrounding Hunter's campaign spending has yet to cost him his support among voters in the 50th District, a region his father -- who is also named Duncan Hunter -- held for 14 terms. Hunter was returned to the House of Representatives in 2016 and again last year.

But the East County congressman was stripped of his committee assignments after his indictment last year, and denied any new assignments under the Republican Party rules adopted for the 116th Congress.

With no committee assignments and a looming indictment, Duncan Hunter, has drawn formidable challengers hoping to win his seat in the upcoming primary March 3 and general election in November 2020.

Republican challengers include former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio, former Rep. Darrell Issa, and State Sen. Brian Jones. Hunter also faces a challenge by Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, who narrowly lost to Hunter in 2018.


In October, Hunter failed for the first time to get the endorsement of the Republican Party of San Diego County, which instead declined to endorse any candidate in the race.

Devin Burstein, Hunter's appellate lawyer, told The San Diego Union-Tribune in a phone call Monday that he supported his client at this difficult time in his life. He declined to provide information about his client's plea deal.

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