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California Republican resigns from Congress after pleading guilty to campaign finance crimes

Representative Duncan Hunter pleads guilty

Congressman Duncan Hunter, who lost his ability to cast votes in the House, is resigning from Congress. The California Republican said he will leave office "shortly after the holidays." 

He pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations on Tuesday. Two days later, he was informed by the Ethics Committee that House rules bar someone from voting when he or she is convicted of a crime that could incur a sentence of two or more years.

"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," he said in his announcement.

Hunter and his wife, who was also his campaign manager, were charged with federal campaign finance crimes in August 2018. They used a quarter of a million dollars in campaign donations to pay for personal expenses, such as vacations and their children's tuition. Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran who was first elected in 2008, attempted to hide some of the illegal spending by pretending the purchases were for charities, such as veterans groups and a Boys and Girls Club.

After more than a year of denying that he broke the law, Hunter switched his not-guilty plea this week. He said he wanted to avoid a public trial because "it would be really tough" for his three children. His reversal also came nearly six months after his wife switched her plea.

Like President Trump, Hunter frequently called the case against him a political witch hunt. He was one of the first elected officials to publicly support Mr. Trump during his 2016 run for president.

Despite the scandal, voters reelected Hunter in 2018. 

Clare Hymes, Rebecca Kaplan and Kathryn Watson contributed reporting.

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