Former California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Vapeville) has been sentenced to 11 months in prison after pleading guilty to misspending campaign funds.
The funds bankrolled private school tuition for his children, his wife’s shopping sprees, weekend trips with his mistress and drinking parties in Washington.
The former Marine’s defense attorneys had asked for home confinement, citing his military service, including fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prosecutors had asked for 14 months in prison.
Hunter resigned from Congress in January after serving six terms representing one of Southern California’s last solidly Republican districts.
He reports to prison in May.
BREAKING: Former Congressman Duncan Hunter was just sentenced to 11 months in federal prison. Read the CREW complaint that kicked off the investigation: https://t.co/HAJcYqj5J8
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) March 17, 2020
In his signed plea agreement, Hunter specifically acknowledged that the “object of the conspiracy was for the Hunters to convert campaign funds for their own personal benefit and enjoyment, and for the personal benefit of others with whom they had personal relationships.”
Hunter faced up to five years in prison. His 11-month sentence includes three years of probation. His wife, Margaret, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy to misuse campaign funds and was expected to testify against her husband of more than 20 years if the case went to trial.
Hunter, 43, served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine. Sworn in at age 32 to the congressional seat once held by his father, Hunter had shown a strong interest in national security issues, though he also was a famously outspoken advocate for e-cigarettes, once even using a vape device during a House Transportation Committee hearing to discuss a proposal from Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) to ban vaping on airplanes.
He was one of the first congressman to support Donald Trump as the Republican nominee for president, and after he was charged, he took a Trump-like approach to the case, attacking the prosecutors as politically motivated.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip L.B. Halpern said in an interview after the sentence that Hunter’s accusations “pose a threat to our society,” and prosecutors believed that U.S. District Judge Thomas J. Whelan’s sentence was “appropriate and wise,” according to The Washington Post.
“If people don’t have respect for our institutions, that’s when democracies begin to crumble,” Halpern said.
Halpern added later, “Today’s sentence reinforces the notion that truth still matters, that facts still matter. After all, a system that is willing to abandon facts must also be willing to abandon justice.”
When a reporter observed that Trump similarly has attacked the Justice Department, Halpern returned to Hunter’s allegations about the case against him.
“We know that [his accusations] in this case are not true,” he said.
Asked his thoughts on a possible Trump pardon for Hunter, Halpern said, “Those decisions are above my pay grade.”
More news on this later today.