LOS ANGELES (CN) – Embattled Republican congressman Duncan Hunter said Friday he will resign after the holidays, following his guilty plea this week on campaign finance violation charges.
“Shortly after the holidays, I will resign from Congress,” Duncan said in a statement. “It has been an honor to serve the people of California’s 50th District, and I greatly appreciate the trust they have put in me over these last 11 years.”
Hunter was one of the first Republicans in Congress to endorse President Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016.
Federal charges against Hunter came after The San Diego Union-Tribune published a series of investigative stories looking at the California Republican’s campaign finances.
Following the federal indictment of Hunter ahead of the 2018 midterms, Trump took to Twitter to criticize former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the timing of the indictment.
The Marine veteran had claimed for more than a year the prosecution against him – in which he was accused of misusing at least $250,000 in campaign funds – was a “political witch hunt.”
But Hunter reversed course Dec. 2, announcing that he would appear in court the next day and agree to a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
According to the 12-page plea agreement, the six-term Republican admitted that he and his wife Margaret Hunter – who was also his former campaign treasurer – used campaign funds for personal expenses from 2010 through 2016.
Prosecutors accused Hunter and his wife of dipping into his campaign war chest at least 30 times, using campaign funds to pay for trips to Europe and Hawaii, expensive dinner outings, school tuition and family dental work.
Hunter is scheduled to be sentenced March 17, while his wife – who already pleaded guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to convert campaign funds to personal use – is scheduled to be sentenced April 13.
The Hunters each face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The House Ethics Committee sent Hunter a letter Thursday informing him that since he pleaded guilty to a federal crime he would be barred from voting in the House. Hunter had already been removed from his committee assignments following the indictment in 2018.
Hunter managed to hold onto his District 50 congressional seat in 2018 despite a Democratic “Blue Wave” that swept across Southern California and the rest of the nation.
The two men who’d planned to take on Hunter in 2020, Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar and Republican Carl DeMaio, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.