California congressman Hunter set to plead guilty in campaign finance case


FILE PHOTO: U.S. congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) arrives for a motions hearing in his upcoming campaign financing trial at federal court in San Diego, California, U.S. July 8, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

(Reuters) – U.S. Representative Duncan Hunter, a California Republican, is scheduled to plead guilty on Tuesday to federal charges stemming from allegations that he and his wife misused $250,000 in campaign funds, court records showed on Monday.

A notice of a change-of-plea hearing, set for 10 a.m. PST on Monday in U.S. District Court in San Diego, was filed in the case docket without any further documentation indicating details of a prospective agreement with prosecutors.

The case against Hunter, 42, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and an early supporter of President Donald Trump, is seen as giving a boost to Democrats’ bid to seize control of a traditionally Republican seat in California’s 50th Congressional District.

Hunter’s wife, Margaret, pleaded guilty in the case in June. The congressman appeared to have blamed his wife for misuse of campaign funds in a Fox News interview last year, saying he had given his spouse power of attorney while he was deployed to Iraq in 2003, and that she oversaw his campaign finances.

The indictment returned against the couple in 2018 accused them of using his campaign accounts to pay for their children’s private school tuition, lavish travel and expensive meals at restaurants.

It also alleged that the Hunters lied about how the money was spent, with the couple saying it went to charity or campaign events, while prosecutors said it was spent on personal expenses.

Reporting by Steve Gorman in Culver City, Calif.; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney

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