The Latest: Lawmaker: Politics behind push for guilty plea

The Latest: Lawmaker: Politics behind push for guilty plea


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SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Latest on a change of plea by the wife of indicted U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (all times local):

11:40 a.m.

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter says political reasons prompted the Department of Justice to pressure his wife to plead guilty and testify against him in their corruption case.

The GOP California congressman made the comment in a statement Thursday after Margaret Hunter pleaded guilty to a single count in U.S. court in San Diego.

Duncan Hunter says the prosecution wanted to prevent him from getting re-elected.

He says questions about their use of campaign funds should have been handled by the Federal Elections Commission.

In her plea deal, Margaret Hunter acknowledged the couple misused more than $200,000 in campaign funds for personal use over six years.

She also agreed to help the government. Rep. Hunter's trial is in September.

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This item has been corrected to say Margaret Hunter acknowledged misusing more than $200,000 in campaign funds, not $250,000.

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10:31 a.m.

The wife of indicted Republican U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter of California has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to misuse campaign funds, including for an Italy trip that cost more than $10,000.

Margaret Hunter, who worked as her husband's campaign manager, had previously pleaded not guilty to corruption charges alleging the couple used more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for personal trips, hotel rooms and shopping sprees.

But on Thursday she withdrew that plea in U.S. court in San Diego and pleaded guilty to a single count carrying a sentence of up to five years in prison.

The misuse of campaign funds spanned from 2010 to the end of 2016.

The move suggests she is cooperating with the prosecution and might even testify against her husband. His trial is scheduled for September.

His attorney, Gregory Vega, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that Margaret Hunter's guilt should have no impact on his client's case.

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9:47 a.m.

Nearly a year after U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter suggested his wife was to blame for their alleged misuse of campaign funds, Margaret Hunter was headed to court Thursday to change her not guilty plea, which could pave the way for her to testify against her husband.

Margaret Hunter, who worked as her husband's campaign manager, was scheduled to appear in federal court in San Diego to change her plea.

The California congressman's attorney, Gregory Vega, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that Margaret Hunter's decision should have no impact on his client's federal corruption case that alleges the couple spent more than $250,000 in campaign money on a lavish lifestyle, bankrolling Italian and Hawaiian vacations, tequila shots and theater tickets while their household budget was in the red.

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This story corrects that Margaret Hunter acknowledged in her plea deal that couple misused up to $200,000 in campaign funds, not more than $250,000.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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