Disgraced Rep. Duncan Hunter To Resign After Holidays
Three days after pleading guilty to corruption, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, announced he is resigning from Congress after the holidays.
"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," Hunter said in a statement sent to reporters Friday.
Hunter did not set a date for his resignation. He will continue to draw his $175,000-a-year congressional salary for as long as he is still in office.
After Hunter resigns, Gov. Gavin Newsom may keep the seat vacant until a new representative is elected in the regular 2020 election cycle, or choose to hold a special election for the remainder of the term.
If the governor chooses to hold an election, that means voters in the 50th District will have voted for their representative at least three times — the special election, the March 3 primary and the general election in November.
After Hunter's announcement, Democratic candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar, who came within three percentage points of beating Hunter in the 2018 election, said he is "ready to take our working class, commonsense, country over party message to Congress."
"I actually live in this district — so as the only leading candidate who can actually vote in this race, I’m confident that we will outperform in the early phases of this election and go on to win the general election," he said in a statement.
Alpine resident Samuel Walker said he doesn't see the 50th District turning blue anytime soon.
"I think once the Republicans ... gets the nomination to go up, I expect for this area to stay Republican," he said. "I mean, I'm Republican, my father was a Republican, my grandfather was a Republican, my great grandfather was a Republican and we're all from this area. It's just the way the demographics is."
Hunter, who had maintained his innocence for nearly 1-1/2 years, and at times called the charges against him a political witch-hunt, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of conspiracy to use campaign funds for personal use, the same charge his wife Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty to in June.
After the guilty plea, federal prosecutor Phil Halpern said he was satisfied with the outcome and said the case is a signal that no one is above the law.
"No figure regardless of the heights they've reached, no figure regardless of what they've contributed, and no figure regardless of what office they occupy should be allowed in this country to cry witch hunt or fake news and attempt to deflect their criminal wrongdoings," he said.
On Thursday, the House Ethics Committee told Hunter he should refrain from voting in the House because of his felony conviction. He had voted on the floor the day before.
Hunter is scheduled to be sentenced on March 17, 2020. He faces five years in prison, three years probation and a $250,000 fine.