Congressman Duncan Hunter released a statement on Friday that addresses his future.
In the statement he says, "Shortly after the Holidays I will resign from Congress. 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."
Rep. Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty before a federal judge in San Diego Tuesday, December 3 to misusing $150,000 in campaign funds for his own personal expenses. Now, Hunter faces a possible five-year prison sentence and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced March 17.
Depending on when Hunter resigns, he could get his January paycheck since Congress is paid the last business day of a month.
“He definitely wanted to stay, perhaps for monetary reasons, certainly to retain statures and justify that voters did elect him with these charges in the air,” said Laura Fink, a political analyst.
So, what happens to his seat?
Governor Gavin Newsom could decide to call a special election, which generally have low turn out.
“Low turnout would favor Republicans in the race potentially, although there is an argument to be made in this case that if Ammar Campa-Najjar was really able to focus on his Democratic base, and turn them out in outsized proportions [...] it could be an advantage for him,” said Fink.
Had Hunter resigned even a day earlier than he did, the governor would be forced to call an election. However, since Friday was the last filing date for 2020 candidates, the law gives the governor the option to wait until the November election.
There is a possibility that Hunter will forfeit his congressional pension. A 2007 ethics law denies benefits to members of congress convicted of certain felonies.
In his plea deal, Hunter said he and his wife dipped into the election funds between 2010 and 2016 more than 30 times and tried to hide it by falsely reporting the expenses — from their daughter’s birthday party at the famed Hotel Del Coronado to an outing with friends in Washington at a French bistro — were campaign related.
For more than a year, California Rep. Duncan Hunter insisted that criminal charges against him and his wife were the result of a conspiracy of the “deep state” meant to drive the six-term Republican from office in the Democrat-dominated state.
Hunter, an early supporter of President Donald Trump, said in a TV interview that aired Monday that he is prepared to go to jail. Hunter, 42, said his motivation is to protect his three children from going through a trial, which was set to begin Jan. 22.