Editordude: Things are moving fast in the Margaret Hunter and Duncan Hunter federal campaign finance cases. After Margaret pleaded guilty to one count (see below) Thursday morning, Duncan- true to form – released this statement:

“I do not have the full details of Margaret’s case, but it’s obvious that the Department of Justice (DOJ) went after her to get to me for political reasons. As Margaret’s case concludes, she should be left alone. I am the Congressman, this is my campaign and any further attention on this issue should be directed solely to me.”

Now read Doug Porter’s full report below, updated slightly.

By Doug Porter / Words&Deeds / June 13, 2019

The chickens are coming home to roost for District 50 Congressman Duncan Hunter. Margaret Hunter changed her plea this morning to guilty to the first count in the indictment, conspiring with her husband to “knowingly and willingly convert campaign funds for personal use.”

Mrs Hunter faces up to five years in jail with a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release, and is cooperating with the prosecution.

Duncan and Margaret Hunter were indicted last summer for allegedly using $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses and covering their tracks in campaign finance filings to the Federal Election Commission. They were expected to go on trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on Sept. 10.

The 60 federal charges faced by the couple came after a two year investigation by the Union-Tribune included accusations Hunter and his wife of used campaign donations for personal expenses, including groceries, a garage door, a trip to Italy, oral surgery and private school tuition and lunches.

From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

  • Experts say a change-of-plea hearing almost certainly means Margaret Hunter is now working with prosecutors.
  • “What it normally means is that she and her lawyer have cut a deal to cooperate with the government,” former federal prosecutor Jerry Coughlan said. “In return for that, the government will agree to only the charges she pleads guilty to and typically bring to the judge’s attention what she’s done and make a recommendation for leniency.
  • “It all depends on what she negotiated,” he said. “Those are the general parameters, but every case is different.”

So it seems as though Margaret Hunter will be changing sides, or as President Trump calls it, “flipping.”

Since the Commander in Chief has declared the practice of cooperating with prosecutors as part of a plea agreement “ought to be illegal,” it seems certain wingnuttia will soon be chock full of a) threats against Mrs. Hunter for being ‘disloyal to America’ and b) part of the ‘Deep State’ conspiracy plot her husband says is the motive for prosecution.

The truth of the matter is that the congressman is getting his just rewards.

Not long after he was indicted, Rep. Hunter made the rounds of media outlets suggesting his wife was responsible for any improprieties that may have taken place.

Ammar Campa-Najjar, his Democratic challenger in 2018 (and in the 2020 election) put together a video collage of how Hunter’s blame game was received. (Spoiler: not well)

And then there‘s the matter of Rep. Hunter’s use of campaign money spent while in the company of people who were not his wife.

The indictment says there were five unnamed people who benefited from the illegal spending — Individuals 14 through 18. All “lived in the Washington D.C. area and had personal relationships with Duncan Hunter,” the indictment states.

There appears to be an overlap with Margaret’s spending sprees on personal items and the departure of his longtime chief of staff, Vicki Middleton in 2014.

Via Politico:

  • Around that time, Hunter hired a young woman whom investigators have inquired about during their probe, sources familiar with the questioning said. Hunter promoted her from intern to full-time, a decision that perplexed staffers who said she frequently failed to show up for work and was hostile to co-workers.
  • POLITICO is not naming the woman because multiple attempts to reach her for comment were unsuccessful.
  • Former staffers to Hunter said the atmosphere grew toxic because of the woman, who would text with Hunter and sometimes accompany him to the Capitol Hill Club. Multiple aides complained about her attire, saying it was inappropriate for a work environment. Two aides kept a tally of how many days of work she had missed. The woman would also show up uninvited at Hunter’s campaign events, including one in San Diego.   

Since the indictment last year, the two have entered and left federal court in San Diego separately with their own attorneys.

Hunter was one of two Republican federal lawmakers to win re-election in November, 2018 despite being indicted on corruption charges. He won in the heavily Republican district by the smallest margin of his career.

His 2018 campaign included slinging racist and false attacks against his Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar. A scary-sounding ad accused Campa-Najjar of trying to “infiltrate” Congress, noting that his grandfather (who he’d never met), Yasser al-Najjar, participated in the deadly attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Recently, Hunter’s made headlines via comments about his own conduct — including taking a photo with a dead enemy combatant — as a Marine while championing the defense of former Navy SEAL Edward “Eddie” Gallagher. Gallagher, who has pleaded not guilty, is facing charges  amounting to war crimes and was at one time reportedly being considered for a pardon by President Donald Trump.

In addition to Democratic opponent Campa-Najjar, Republicans Larry Wilke, Matt Rahn, and Bill Wells have declared their candidacy for the 2020 election. Radio talk show host Carl DeMaio, who lost to in 2014 to Rep Scott Peters in the 48th District, is rumored to be interested in running.