Former California Rep. Duncan Hunter was sentenced to 11 months in prison for violating campaign finance law.
The sentence was handed down by Judge Thomas Whelan in San Diego Tuesday morning. Hunter, a Republican, pled guilty in December to charges that he used campaign funds for a wide array of personal expenses. He resigned his seat in early January.
Hunter’s indictment accused him of using over $250,000 in campaign contributions for personal matters, including a vacation to Italy, private school tuition, and dental work, as Vox’s Tara Golshan explained at the time:
“Throughout the relevant period, the Hunters spent substantially more than they earned,” the indictment reads, citing more than 1,000 bank overdraft fees in a seven-year time span and the family repeatedly maxing out credit cards. At the center of the indictment is Hunter’s wife, whom the lawmaker installed as his paid campaign manager because the family “needed the extra money,” the indictment states.
The misuse of campaign funds extends to the purchase of video games; more than $25,000 in family vacations to Italy, Hawaii, Las Vegas, London, and other destinations; more than $15,000 in airline tickets for the family, friends, and the pet rabbit; food and alcohol; holiday gifts; and more.
According to the indictment, these purchases were often concealed to the campaign treasurer as miscellaneous expenses or campaign activities or even reported as fraudulent.
After a yearlong Department of Justice investigation, Hunter was also charged with wire fraud and falsifying documents. Now he’s going to prison, but not necessarily right away. Because of the strain the coronavirus pandemic has had on the California court system, Judge Whelan said that Hunter wouldn’t have to turn himself in until late May.
Despite being under indictment, Hunter persisted in his reelection campaign in 2018, narrowly winning his House race against Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar. Voters will decide who fills his now-vacated seat this fall between Campa-Najjar and former Republican Rep. Darrell Issa.