California Rep. Duncan Hunter will finally leave office next week more than a year after prosecutors issued a sweeping corruption indictment of the Republican congressman and nearly six weeks after Hunter pleaded guilty to a felony charge for stealing campaign funds for his personal use. Hunter submitted his official resignation Tuesday, informing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California Gov. Gavin Newsom of his intention to resign next Monday, Jan. 13. Hunter, who was first elected in 2008, hasn’t gone quietly, however, claiming throughout that he was the victim of a political witch hunt due to his early support for President Donald Trump.
Until the end, despite agreeing to a plea deal felony charge on Dec 3., Hunter has largely shrugged off any responsibility for his own actions, clinging to power despite the growing momentum behind allegations that led to him and his wife being indicted on 60 federal counts of pilfering $250,000 in campaign donations to fund personal expenses. The expenses weren’t even borderline; Hunter used his campaign war chest like a personal ATM. Campaign money was used to fund the mundane—from groceries to Uber rides, fast food, and home repairs—to the extravagant—family vacations, resort stays, lavish meals, even $600 on airfare for a Hunter family pet rabbit. The cherry on top, however, is that prosecutors alleged the 42-year-old congressman also used donor dollars to finance a slew of extramarital affairs, including three with lobbyists and two more with congressional staffers.
Newsom will now have to decide whether to try to fill the seat through a special election or to leave the seat empty and wait until the November election to fill it. “Because Hunter’s resignation will take effect after the filing deadline for the March primary ballot, which was early last month,” the Los Angeles Times notes, “[i]t may be difficult to call for a special election to be consolidated with the March 3 primary because mail ballots for both elections would be sent about the same time and could be confusing for voters.”
Hunter’s demise brings to an end his family’s decades-long political dynasty in the area. Hunter represents California’s 50th District, which covers portions of San Diego and Riverside counties, the very same area his father represented for nearly 30 years. After leaving office, Hunter is expected to be sentenced on March 17 and faces up to five years in prison, though it is widely believed the sentence will be substantially shorter.