Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Trump Pardons Hunters


Last updated 1/11/2021 at 10:47am

In a quite controversial decision, former Congressman Duncan Hunter was fully pardoned by President Donald Trump on Dec. 22.

President Trump granted a full pardon to 15 people on Dec. 22, including Duncan Hunter, who was set to begin his 11-month prison sentence at the Federal Correctional Institute La Tuna in Anthony, Texas on Jan. 4.

In a statement by the White House, it said the pardon came “at the request of many Members of Congress.” It also suggested that Hunter’s violations should have been handled as a civil case by the Federal Election Commission rather than in criminal court. And it said, “Mr. Hunter has dedicated much of his adult life to public service,” pointing to his time in the U.S. Marine Corps serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Duncan Hunter pled guilty in December 2019 to a federal conspiracy for misusing campaign funds, and was sentenced in March 2020 to 11 months in prison and three years of parole. However, due to COVID-19, his surrender date was pushed back to Jan. 4, 2021 before noon by U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan.

According to the United States Department of Justice, a presidential pardon does not signify innocence, but “is an expression of the president’s forgiveness and ordinarily is granted in recognition of the applicant’s acceptance of responsibility for the crime and established good conduct for a significant period of time after conviction or completion of sentence.”

Duncan Hunter was first elected to the 50th Congressional District seat in 2008, and stepped down from Congressional assignments in 2018. He still managed to win re-election for the seat amid the charges, public allegations and being indicted three months prior. Duncan Hunter is one of the few Congressmen to be re-elected while indicted.

He officially submitted his resignation on Jan. 7, 2020, one month after pleading guilty to charges against him. His departure went into effect on Jan. 13 of that year.

The Hunters were charged in a 60-count indictment in 2018, for unlawfully using campaign funds for personal uses, ranging from staying at lavish hotels and dining at fancy restaurants to box seats at sporting events, tuition for their children at private institutions and even flying their pets on private planes.

Margaret Hunter, who filed for divorce in November 2020, cooperated with prosecutors to indict her husband, received her own pardon the day after on Dec. 23. As in the explanation for Duncan Hunter’s pardon, President Trump’s office said that her case should have been handled by the FEC.

Margaret Hunter pled guilty to one count of conspiring with her husband to misuse of funds and accepted a plea deal to testify against him. She was sentenced to eight months of home confinement and three years probation on Aug. 24. Prosecutors had sought to have her home confinement delayed, but stated it would be more punitive then, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and began immediately.

Many who have supported President Trump, including loyal Republicans, shared their anger toward the president’s decision to pardon the Hunters, stating this is “sending the wrong message,” and that “elected officials should be held to a higher standard than the average citizen.”

While others shared their support and congratulated the former Congressman.