By Haley Byrd, Phil Mattingly, Lauren Fox and Paul LeBlanc
The House Ethics Committee urged Rep. Duncan Hunter in a letter on Thursday to stop voting on legislation and other matters on the House floor after he pleaded guilty earlier this week to campaign finance violations.
The committee notified the California Republican that his plea brings into effect a House rule stating that members convicted of certain crimes should refrain from voting. The letter noted that the rule exists “to preserve public confidence in the legislative process when a sitting Member of Congress has been convicted of a serious crime.”
Although the rule is not mandatory, the committee said, “we emphasize in the strongest possible terms that if you violate the clear principles of this provision — that is, for example, by voting in the House — you risk subjecting yourself to action by this Committee, and by the House, in addition to any other disciplinary action that may be initiated in connection with your criminal conviction.”
Duncan most recently voted on the House floor Wednesday, according to the House clerk, the day after he had pleaded guilty. He did not vote Thursday.
Hunter’s San Diego attorney, Devin Burstein, had “no comment” regarding the letter.
Hunter’s guilty plea Tuesday stemmed from his misuse of more than $200,000 in campaign funds.
Following the brief hearing Hunter told reporters that he “made mistakes and that’s what today was all about.”
Hunter had previously denied dipping into campaign funds to pay for personal expenses and initially blamed his wife, Margaret, who pleaded guilty in June to conspiring with her husband to “knowingly and willingly” convert campaign funds for personal use.
“She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did that’ll be looked at too, I’m sure,” he said on Fox News in August 2018.
“But I didn’t do it,” Hunter said. “I didn’t spend any money illegally.”
Though he faces up to five years in prison, Assistant US Attorney Phillip Halpern told CNN following the guilty plea that he would seek a sentence of about 14 months.
A former Marine who had combat tours in Iraq, who is also the son of former California GOP Rep. Duncan L. Hunter, the congressman has courted controversy throughout much of his career.
Following the corruption charges, he agreed to step down from his congressional committee assignments and went on to win reelection, after running an anti-Muslim campaign against his Democratic opponent.
Though the 50th Congressional District is strongly Republican, many voters have told CNN in interviews over the last year that they were greatly dismayed by Hunter’s conduct — and his earlier implication that his wife was to blame for the improper spending.
CNN’s Paul Vercammen contributed to this report.
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