With his political career -- and personal freedom -- on the line, Congressman Duncan D. Hunter bulked up his legal team on Monday.
Former San Diego County District Attorney Paul Pfingst is now one of five attorneys defending Hunter against fraud, conspiracy and other federal charges related to his alleged misspending of campaign contributions.
Pfingst is one of San Diego’s most respected trial attorneys with decades of experience in federal and state courts, where he has prosecuted and defended high-stakes criminal and civil cases.
Pfingst told NBC 7 that his experience as a political candidate and office holder -- he was a two-term DA, from 1992 to 2002 -- will prove valuable to Hunter’s defense effort.
“I’m not just an attorney,” Pfingst said. “I’ve been a candidate, and I know how challenging it can be [to correctly interpret and follow campaign contribution laws].”
Pfingst also said the U.S attorney’s office has challenged his formal notice of association with the Hunter case, which was filed Monday with the district court clerk.
Pfingst said prosecutors claim Pfingst has a conflict because another lawyer from his firm of Higgs, Fletcher & Mack represented witnesses in the Hunter case.
Pfingst added that he will fight any formal effort by prosecutors to prevent him from joining the Hunter legal team, which already includes former U.S. Attorney Greg Vega, two associates from Vega’s firm Selzer Caplan, and criminal appeals specialist Devin Burstein.
The U.S. Attorney declined to comment on the issue.