Days after Rep. Duncan Hunter pleaded guilty to a federal felony related to a years-long campaign finance scandal, he has finally stated explicitly that he will resign from his congressional seat before the end of his term.
“Shortly after the holidays, I will resign from Congress,” Hunter (R-Alpine) said in a statement. “It has been an honor to serve the people of California’s 50th District, and I greatly appreciate the trust they have put in me over these last 11 years.”
Hunter’s decision comes a day after the House Ethics Committee threatened disciplinary action against Hunter if he continued to violate House rules by casting votes after pleading guilty to a federal crime that could carry a prison sentence of more than two years. Hunter had already lost the ability to serve on any congressional committees.
With Hunter’s announcement, a decision on his soon-to-be-vacant seat falls to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Because California’s filing deadline for the March 3 primary election was Friday, Newsom can leave the seat vacant until after the November 2020 general election, call a special election or consolidate a special election with the March primary.
Although there is not necessarily a hard deadline for when Newsom would be able to consolidate the election with the March primary, the San Diego County Registrar of Voters is requesting that the courts settle any dispute over ballot language before the end of December in order to avoid negatively affecting its ability to conduct the election.
Under state law, Newsom has 14 days after a vacancy opens to set the date for a special election within the next 140 days.
Hunter was indicted in 2018 on 60 federal charges accusing him of using $250,000 in campaign money for family vacations, groceries, extramarital affairs and other non-campaign uses. This week, he pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to convert campaign funds to personal use.
Clark writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.