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Duncan Hunter Will Plead Guilty to Misuse of Campaign Funds

Representative Duncan Hunter of California is expected to plead guilty to allegations that he misused campaign funds, according to a federal court docket published on Monday and an interview he gave to a San Diego television station.

Mr. Hunter is accused of spending more than $200,000 on personal expenses. An indictment detailed spending on lavish family vacations to Hawaii and foreign countries, large bar tabs, and grocery purchases for his family.

Before the indictment was released last year, Mr. Hunter, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, boasted a sterling political résumé and a picture-perfect family. But the evidence gathered by prosecutors revealed his family’s deep financial trouble and a fraught home life.

In Washington, he developed a reputation for heavy drinking. At his family’s suburban home in California, the indictment showed, the spending was quotidian: thousands of dollars in campaign funds spent at Costco, at Walmart, or on fast-food runs.

Mr. Hunter was also accused of using campaign dollars to fund several extramarital affairs between 2010 and 2016, including one with a member of his staff. Prosecutors also alleged that the congressman, a Republican elected to represent a Southern California district in 2008, attempted to pass off some of those expenses as charitable contributions to veterans.

Until Monday, Mr. Hunter had remained steadfast that he was innocent of the charges, at one point calling it a “deep state” conspiracy. Despite the allegations, Mr. Hunter won re-election to his seat in November 2018.

Mr. Hunter, defending himself against the charges last year, seemed to suggest that his wife, Margaret Hunter, was responsible for the illegal campaign spending. “Whatever she did, that will be looked at, too, I’m sure,” he said. “I didn’t do it. I didn’t spend any money illegally.”

Mr. Hunter said in an interview on Monday with the television station that he decided to change his plea with his children in mind, saying that a public trial “would be really tough for them.” It was unclear if Mr. Hunter intended to resign.

“It’s hard enough being the kids of a public figure, and I think it’s time for them to live life outside the spotlight,” he said. “But it’s been a privilege to serve in Congress for 11 years, three tours in the Marine Corps and the wars. So, I think we’ve done a lot of great things for the nation.”

In June, Ms. Hunter pleaded guilty to charges related to the spending. At the time, she admitted she had conspired with Mr. Hunter to violate campaign finance laws.

“I am deeply remorseful, and I apologize,” Ms. Hunter said in a statement through her lawyers. “I have accepted full responsibility for my conduct.”

Mr. Hunter’s change of plea hearing with Judge Thomas J. Whelan will take place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, according to the court docket. His trial was scheduled to begin in January.


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