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In reversal, Republican congressman to plead guilty to campaign finance charge

Rep. Hunter indicted for campaign fund misuse

Washington — After more than a year of denying he broke the law, a Republican congressman is having second thoughts.

On Tuesday, Representative Duncan Hunter will appear in federal court to reverse an earlier "not guilty" plea on a campaign finance charge. The California representative revealed his reversal in an interview with San Diego's KUSI News, and the court issued a notification of a "change of plea hearing" scheduled for Tuesday.

Hunter told KUSI News that he wants to avoid a public trial because "it would be really tough" for his three children.

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.

His reversal comes nearly six months after his wife Margaret Hunter — who was also his campaign manager — switched her plea.

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

California Congressman-Corruption Indictment
Representative Duncan Hunter leaves federal court after a hearing in San Diego on July 1, 2019. Denis Poroy / AP

According to his 2018 indictment, the Hunters were a family living well beyond their means. Between 2010 and 2017, they overdrew their bank account 1,100 times, resulting in overdraft fees of nearly $38,000. They also "frequently" maxed out their credit cards.

Hunter installed his wife as his campaign manager over protests by his campaign treasurer and despite having "full knowledge of her long history of misuse of campaign funds," prosecutors said. According to the indictment, they needed the extra money that came with the position.

Despite the scandal, voters reelected Hunter in 2018. He is up for reelection again in 2020.

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