Campaigns

Opponent pounces after Duncan Hunter’s wife switches to guilty plea

“Those who know Hunter the most, trust him the least,” Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar says

Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar is seeking a rematch against GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter in California’s 50th District. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democrat challenging indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter went on the attack Thursday after the California Republican’s wife entered a guilty plea in the federal campaign finance case against her and her husband. 

Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty Thursday to a single count of conspiracy to misuse campaign funds, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The plea comes with a sentence of up to five years and a fine of $250,000. 

“I have fully accepted responsibility for my conduct. I’m deeply remorseful and I apologize,” Margaret Hunter said in a statement read by her lawyer outside the federal courthouse in San Diego, according to a livestream provided by CBS News 8 San Diego. 

Ammar Campa-Najjar, who is seeking a rematch against Duncan Hunter in California’s 50th District, said “Mrs. Hunter’s decision to separate her legal defense from the congressman reinforces what I’ve heard from many on the campaign.”

“From Alpine residents who voted against Hunter in 2018, to Republican leaders who stripped him from his committee assignments, to Mrs. Hunter parting with the congressman’s not guilty plea: Those who know Hunter the most, trust him the least,” said Campa-Najjar, who lost to the congressman by 3 points last fall in the deep-red Southern California district. 

Duncan and Margaret Hunter were both indicted in August 2018 for allegedly using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses, including dental work and trips to Italy and Hawaii. They misclassified the personal expenditures in their campaign finance records and labeled them as relating to campaign events in filings with the Federal Election Commission.

“We simply can no longer afford the costs of Hunter’s corruption in CA50; not while our district faces economic turmoil, deadly brush fires, and badly needed infrastructure upgrades along the I-15 corridor,” Campa-Najjar said. “We deserve more than a congressman who is quite literally useless in Congress using taxpayer dollars to pay his legal fees.”

Margaret Hunter will be sentenced on Sept. 16, ABC 10 News San Diego reported.

The congressman has suggested in court documents that his next appearance will be on July 1 prior to his September trial. He has been removed from committee assignments by his party and the House Ethics panel has authorized an investigation into him, but is deferring to the Department of Justice until that process ends.

The couple had been facing 60 federal charges and were scheduled for a trial in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on Sept. 10.

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report.

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