The wife of Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., faces up to five years in prison after pleading guilty on Thursday in federal court to one count of corruption in a case that has cast a shadow over the congressman’s career.
Margaret Hunter and her husband are accused of spending $250,000 for golf outings, trips to Italy and Hawaii, school tuition, theater tickets and other expenses between 2009 and 2016. Both were indicted on 60 criminal counts related to the misuse of campaign funds and trying to conceal illegal spending.
The congressman’s wife had originally pleaded not guilty to the charges, but it was reported Wednesday that she had decided to change her plea at the last minute.
“We are aware of Mrs. Hunter scheduling a hearing to change her plea,” Gregory Vega, an attorney representing the congressman, told Fox News in an email. “At this time, that does not change anything regarding Congressman Hunter. There are still significant motions that need to be litigated, specifically the speech or debate clause of the U.S. Constitution.”
Hunter, an Iraq War veteran and early supporter of President Trump who represents areas in San Diego and Riverside Counties, won re-election last year despite being under indictment on corruption charges. He pleaded not guilty last year and is scheduled to go to trial in September.
Hunter denied any wrongdoing and has said the allegations against him and his wife are politically motivated. Hunter has said his wife handled his finances. The couple repaid the campaign $60,000.
"I do not have the full details of Margaret’s case, but it's obvious that the Department of Justice (DOJ) went after her to get to me for political reasons," Hunter said in a statement on Thursday. "As Margaret’s case concludes, she should be left alone."
He added: "I am the Congressman, this is my campaign and any further attention on this issue should be directed solely to me."
Fox News' Louis Casiano contributed to this report.