Congress’s Committee on Ethics notified Rep. Duncan Hunter Thursday he should refrain from voting in the House following his guilty plea.
Rep. Hunter’s guilty plea to a conspiracy to misuse campaign funds brings into play House Rule XXXIII, clause 10(1), which states that any representative convicted of a crime carrying a sentence of more than two years should:
“Refrain from voting on any question at a meeting of the House or of the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union, unless or until judicial or executive proceedings result in reinstatement of the presumption of the innocence of such Member or until the Member is reelected to the House after the date of such conviction.”
Hunter, who spent the last two years denying wrongdoing, pleaded guilty to misusing $150,000 in campaign funds for his own personal expenses.
The 42-year-old, six-term congressman was originally charged with 60 counts and could have faced up to decades in prison before the plea deal. He said Tuesday he will accept whatever sentence the judge gives, which could be up to five years or lessened to probation, a fine, house arrest or even community service.
House Rule XXIII is not mandatory, but is emphasized in “the strongest possible terms,” according to the Committee on Ethics’ letter.
Any violator subjects themselves to action by the committee or House in addition to other disciplinary action in connection with the criminal conviction, the letter said.
Hunter entered a guilty plea to spare his three children of publicity during his scheduled January 2020 trial, according to his lawyer Paul Pfingst.
He is the second Republican congressman this year to plead guilty to federal charges. In October, former four-term Rep. Chris Collins of New York pleaded guilty in an insider trading case and resigned. He faces a maximum sentence of about four years in prison.
Duncan Hunter represents the 50th Congressional District, which covers eastern San Diego County and a small part of Riverside County. It is the most Republican district in Southern California, an area now nearly devoid of GOP representation.