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Rep. Duncan Hunter's Wife May Have Just Flipped on Him

Margaret Hunter changes her mind, pleads guilty
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 13, 2019 5:32 PM CDT
Margaret Hunter, left, wife of indicted Republican US Rep. Duncan Hunter, arrives at federal courthouse in downtown San Diego on Thursday, June 13, 2019.   (John Gibbins/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP)

(Newser) – The wife of US Rep. Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty Thursday to a single corruption count and agreed to testify against her husband at his trial on charges the couple spent more than $200,000 in campaign funds on trips, dinners, clothes, and other personal expenses, the AP reports. Margaret Hunter served as campaign chair for her husband, and after the couple was indicted last year the Republican congressman from California suggested his wife was to blame for any misuse of funds. They both pleaded not guilty, but she reversed course and withdrew her plea Thursday during a brief federal court hearing, leading to headlines like this one from Vanity Fair: "Did Congressman Duncan Hunter's Wife Just Flip On Him?" And from KQED: "Will Rep. Duncan Hunter's Rabbit Sing Like a Bird?"

In a statement read by her attorney after accepting a plea agreement that could send her to prison for up to five years, she said she accepts full responsibility for her actions. "I am deeply remorseful, and I apologize," she said. Prosecutors allege the couple engaged in more than 30 illegal transactions totaling more than $200,000 between 2010 and 2016. The spending included money for trips to Italy, Hawaii, and Las Vegas and expensive dinners, as well as more mundane items like shirts and tequila shots. The improper spending occurred when the couple knew their household budget was in tatters and they were being charged tens of thousands of dollars for overdrafts and credit card fees, authorities said. In her plea agreement, Margaret Hunter said she would testify for the prosecution. She also agreed to provide documents. Duncan Hunter, a close Trump ally, said in a statement emailed to the AP that political reasons prompted the Justice Department to pressure his wife to testify. (Much more here.)


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