Margaret Hunter continued to live with her husband, former Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, for nearly two months after she “flipped” on him, court records suggest.
With a promise to cooperate with the government in its campaign funds misuse case, Margaret ended up with no prison time — just eight months of home confinement. Federal prosecutors in mid-June 2019 had recommended that she get a far lighter sentence than the 5-year maximum for the single conspiracy count she admitted.
But it wasn’t until Aug. 10, 2019, that Margaret separated from her husband of almost 21 years, according to documents reviewed Wednesday by Times of San Diego.
The paperwork filed in El Cajon Superior Court doesn’t detail why Margaret sued for divorce. That’s no surprise.
California is a “no-fault divorce” state, where all that’s needed is one spouse saying they can’t get along with the other. Margaret checked a box for “irreconcilable differences,” the standard option.
Yet other details emerge in the documents.
Margaret asked the court for joint legal custody of her two minor girls (14 and 17), but seeks physical custody — allowing Duncan visitation rights.
A family resolution conference before Judge Frank Birchak has been set for April 26 — two days after Margaret Hunter’s home detention ends. (But Duncan Hunter can attend by phone if he’s in prison. His start date is Jan. 4.)
Margaret — who married Duncan Duane Hunter on July 11, 1998 — seeks spousal support, but no dollar amount is given in court records. (The figure she would seek is privileged, one family law expert said. “It is always negotiable.”)
She also wants the former six-term congressman to pay her attorney fees.
Paperwork also indicates that Margaret “is presently unaware of the exact nature and full extent of the community and quasi-community assets and debts.”
She signed a standard restraining order, which says neither parent can take the minor children out of state without permission. They also can’t cancel or change beneficiaries of any insurance or other coverage held for the benefit of the parties and their minor children.
And the Hunters can’t hide or dispose of any property, real or personal, without the written consent of the other party or an order of the court “except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life.”
Although she filed for divorce Nov. 20, her husband wasn’t formally served papers until a little after noon Dec. 3 at the Kearny Mesa offices of Margaret’s attorney, David C. Beavans.
Duncan Hunter has no lawyer yet, court records say.
Beavans, who has “Super Lawyer” status for 2021, also teaches at his alma mater, San Diego’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law. He declined a request for comment Wednesday.
A UC Davis graduate, he went on to earn an MBA and a master’s degree in international affairs. Beavans spent several years with the U.S. State Department developing the small and medium business sectors in Central and Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union, his profile said.
Beavans also represents an Airbnb guest who says he discovered hidden cameras in the Clairemont home where he was staying. Homeowner Paul Vukelich is being sued for invasion of privacy, inflicting emotional distress, distributing sexually explicit materials and distributing the videos.
In late August, a tearful Margaret Hunter addressed federal Judge Thomas Whelan at her sentencing.
“I continue to take responsibility,” she said. “I’m deeply sorry.”
One of her prosecutors said Margaret testified against a “strong family unit that were all stacked up against her.”
Another prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Conover, hailed her help as “extraordinary” but declined to speculate on Margaret’s motivations for cooperating so fully and early.
Asked whether evidence of five Duncan Hunter “romances” played any role in moving Margaret to cut a deal, he said: “We’re not here to talk about any of the romantic aspects of Mr. Hunter or what may have motivated Miss Hunter. … And the reasons [she cooperated] would be something you’d want to ask Miss Hunter.”
Logan Smith, Margaret’s attorney, told reporters after her sentencing that she’s eager to find a job and earn a college degree.
He said: “She knows it will not be easy, especially with a criminal conviction,” but is fortunate to have a sister, mother and three children to provide the “support and love just as they have for these tumultuous years.”