Hunter, who illegally spent campaign funds, was one of the few congressmen to be re-elected while indicted
The Republican US representative Duncan D Hunter officially resigned on Tuesday after corruption charges brought an end to his familys 30-year political dynasty.
Hunter and his father, Duncan L Hunter, represented their San Diego county district for nearly 30 years. The younger Hunter, a combat marine veteran, was known as a conservative immigration hardliner and a staunch supporter of Donald Trump.
In 2018 he became the one of the few congressmen to be re-elected while indicted.
Hunter, 43, was indicted in August 2018, accused of using $200,000 in campaign money to fund family travel, school tuition, jewelry, groceries and gas. Prosecutors said he also spent the funds on extramarital affairs and flights for his familys pet rabbit. He tried to conceal the illegal spending by listing it in federal records as donations for military veterans and other campaign-related expenses, according to the indictment.
After claiming to be the victim of a political witch hunt for more than a year, he pleaded guilty on 3 December 2019 to a single charge of conspiring with his wife to illegally spending at least $150,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses. Among the improper spending were a birthday gathering for his young daughter at a posh California hotel and social outing with friends at a French bistro in Washington.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in March. The judge could impose the maximum sentence of five years, but prosecutors have said they will ask for no more than a year of jail time. His wife, Margaret Hunter, also pleaded guilty. She is scheduled to be sentenced in April.
Hunters resignation leaves open one of the GOPs few remaining House seats in heavily Democratic California. Holding the 50th congressional district, which has an 11-point Republican registration edge, will be critical if the party hopes to reclaim control of the House after losing it to Democrats in 2018.
The district includes ethnically diverse suburbs at the edge of San Diego that fade into farming and mountainous areas to east, including a small slice of Riverside county.
Hunters seat is being sought by numerous GOP contenders. They include the former congressman Darrell Issa, one of the wealthiest lawmakers to serve when he represented parts of San Diego county and neighboring Orange county under the Obama administration. Hunters father recently endorsed him.
Also running are Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego city councilman who now is a local political commentator and radio host; and the state senator Brian Jones.
The Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, a 30-year-old former Obama administration official who nearly defeated Hunter in 2018, is widely expected to emerge from the March primary for a November showdown.
Under California election rules, the top two vote-getters in the 3 March primary advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation.