Rep. Duncan D. Hunter at Ramona Town Hall. Photo by Ken Stone

Rep. Duncan D. Hunter announced Tuesday he would step down from his House seat on Monday, six weeks after pleading guilty in his campaign finance corruption case.

The Alpine Republican, who pleaded guilty Dec. 3 to a federal felony count for misusing $250,000 in campaign funds, is facing a potential five-year prison sentence.

Hunter, who had been planning to seek a seventh 50th District term in the November 2020 election, is scheduled to be sentenced March 17.

The 42-year-old former Marine was indicted along with Margaret Hunter, his wife and former campau on five dozen criminal counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy and falsification of records, and had been facing a Jan. 22 trial date.

Margaret Hunter, 44, pleaded guilty in June to a conspiracy charge and agreed to work with prosecutors on the case. She faces up to five years in federal custody and a fine of up to $250,000 when she is sentenced in April.

Republican Carl DeMaio, the former councilman and radio talk-show host seeking Hunter’s seat. said in a statement: “The people of the 50th Congressional District deserve their voice in Congress to be restored. Leaving the 50th Congressional District vacant for a full year is wholly unacceptable, and I urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to call a special election as soon as possible.”

The other main GOP candidate, former North County Rep. Darrell Issa, said on Twitter: “I joined this race because I believe voters deserve a strong conservative voice in Congress who will stand up for our values, support President Trump’s agenda, and fight back against the radical left. Duncan Hunter did the right thing by resigning.”

Marisa Calderon, a Democrat running for the Hunter seat along with 2018 also-ran Ammar Campa-Najjar, told Times of San Diego:

“Duncan Hunter’s family, especially his children, will be in my prayers. As much as this is a sad day for the 50th, it’s also a chance to move past this trail of Republican corruption and focus on the future. For Democrats, that focus should be on putting our best foot forward to flip this seat in November — and my candidacy offers Democrats and independents an alternative from someone who couldn’t get the job done just one year ago against an opponent now likely headed to prison.”

Campa-Najjar said in a statement:

“Yesterday, I called on Congressman Hunter to resign immediately. Today he finally tendered his resignation. Hunter should’ve resigned weeks ago, and shouldn’t wait until January 13th to resign. What’s done is done, now it’s time for the constituents of CA-50 to pick up the pieces and move forward together. As the leading candidate and a constituent of the district, I am committed to restoring real representation to the forgotten people of our district and giving this seat back to its rightful owner — the people of CA-50.”

Hunter told KUSI last month that while he expects to spend time in custody, he hopes that his wife will not be incarcerated as “I think my kids need a mom in the home.”

Prosecutors said Hunter and his wife went on expensive family trips and made scores of other improper personal purchases over the course of six years. Supposedly campaign-related events were planned around their family vacations in order to justify the expenses, prosecutors said.

It was also alleged that Hunter used campaign funds to pursue extramarital affairs and repeatedly used campaign credit cards or sought reimbursement for expenses that included resort hotel rooms, airfare, a skiing trip and Uber rides to and from the homes of five women with whom he had “intimate relationships.”

Hunter had repeatedly maintained his innocence and accused the U.S. Attorney’s Office of a politically motivated prosecution. He maintained that two prosecutors on the case attended a La Jolla campaign event for then- Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton in 2015, then indicted him two months before the 2018 election due to his public endorsement of Donald Trump.

Here are his letters to Gov. Gavin Newsom and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

Governor Gavin Newsom
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Dear Governor Newsom,

I write to inform you of my resignation, effective close of business on January 13, 2020, as United States Representative for the 50th District of California. Attached is a copy of the letter I submitted to the Speaker of the House.

Since the day I joined the Marines in the aftermath of 9/11, I have had the honor of serving my country, both at home and abroad. After three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, I was elected to the House and brought with me the lessons I learned during my service in the Marine Corps and the values instilled by my father who held this seat before me. Growing up in East County San Diego, I learned from an early age the importance of liberty, the value of patriotism, and what a strong and secure border can bring to a community.

During my time in Congress, I had the privilege of helping thousands of individuals in my district-from making sure veterans received the benefits they earned, to helping Social Security and Medicare recipients cut through red tape, to assisting immigrants seeking legal citizenship, and countless others going up against the IRS, ATF or other government agencies.

I also sought to enact policies that will make our country better off. As Chairman of the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee, I worked to enhance student outcomes and empower parents with greater choice in where they send their children to school. I was also a strong advocate for college transparency and introduced the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, which would give parents and students a better understanding of college costs and possible outcomes.

As Chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, I worked to protect the Jones Act and ensure that our country has a strong maritime industrial base, including a skilled pool of American shipyard workers and mariners that would form the backbone of our response to any maritime conflict. I pushed the Coast Guard to act like the military service that it is, and made it a priority to modernize our nation’s ice breaker fleet, which is critical for our nation’s continued access to the arctic.

Perhaps the contribution I am most proud of is giving a voice to our men and women in uniform. As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I brought attention to inefficient military programs and worked to make sure our war fighters had the resources they needed to carry out their mission. I helped shine light on a broken military awards process that failed to recognize true heroism, and I fought for warriors like Clint Lorance, Eddie Gallagher and Matt Golsteyn that were treated unjustly by an abusive military justice system. I will always be proud to stand with the men and women who protect our freedoms.

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.

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Madame Speaker,

I write to inform you of my resignation, effective close of business on January 13, 2020, as United States Representative for the 50th District of California. Attached is a copy of the letter I submitted to the Governor of California.

Since the day I joined the Marines in the aftermath of 9/11, I have had the honor of serving my country, both at home and abroad. After three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, I was elected to the House and brought with me the lessons I learned during my service in the Marine Corps and the values instilled by my father who held this seat before me. Growing up in East County San Diego, I learned from an early age the importance of liberty, the value of patriotism, and what a strong and secure border can bring to a community.

During my time in Congress, I had the privilege of helping thousands of individuals in my district-from making sure veterans received the benefits they earned, to helping Social Security and Medicare .recipients cut through red tape, to assisting immigrants seeking legal citizenship, and countless others going up against the IRS, A TF or other government agencies.

I also sought to enact policies that will make our country better off. As Chairman of the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee, I worked to enhance student outcomes and empower parents with greater choice in where they send their children to school.

I was also a strong advocate for college transparency and introduced the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, which would give parents and students a better understanding of college costs and possible outcomes.

As Chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, I worked to protect the Jones Act and ensure that our country has a strong maritime industrial base, including a skilled pool of American shipyard workers and mariners that would form the backbone of our response to any maritime conflict. I pushed the Coast Guard to act like the military service that it is, and made it a priority to modernize our nation’s ice breaker fleet, which is critical for our nation’s continued access to the arctic.

Perhaps the contribution I am most proud of is giving a voice to our men and women in uniform. As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I brought attention to inefficient military programs and worked to make sure our war fighters had the resources they needed to carry out their mission. I helped shine light on a broken military awards process that failed to recognize true heroism, and I fought for warriors like Clint Lorance, Eddie Gallagher and Matt Golsteyn that were treated unjustly by an abusive military justice system. I will always be proud to stand with the men and women who protect our freedoms.

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.

Updated at 3:34 p.m. Jan. 7, 2020

— City News Service contributed to this report.

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