SAN DIEGO (AP) — The teenage son of convicted California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter has penned a letter asking the court to not send his dad to jail for misspending his campaign funds.
Hunter, who resigned from Congress in January, is scheduled to be sentenced next week after pleading guilty to misspending his campaign funds. The former Marine served six terms, representing a district east of San Diego that is one of the last conservative bastions of Southern California.
His defense team is asking the judge to sentence Hunter to 11 months of home confinement. The prosecution is asking for 14 months in prison.
Hunter’s attorneys also submitted to the judge letters from Democratic Rep. Juan Vargas of San Diego and former Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, who received support from Hunter in fighting his war crimes case before Gallagher was pardoned by President Donald Trump.
Gallagher and his wife, Andrea, wrote that Hunter visited Gallagher in his pre-trial confinement and fought for Gallagher when few others would. The couple added that “he is a man of character, and the mistakes he made do not define him nor should they overshadow his activism on behalf of service members and their families.”
Hunter’s son said his dad raised him to be a hard worker with a strong Christian faith.
“With everything that has happened in the last thirteen years or so, my father has made it to every single one of my sports games,” the unnamed teen was quoted as writing in the defense team’s sentencing memorandum filed Tuesday and made public Wednesday.
He went on to write: “I truly do not wish to fathom what kind of person I would be if I never knew him.”
Congressman Vargas, a Democrat representing the district next to Hunter’s 50th district, wrote a handwritten letter on blank paper without a congressional letterhead. He stated that while the two differ politically, Hunter needs help not punishment.
“While his behavior is not excused by the afflictions he suffered in Afghanistan and Iraq, I personally believe that Mr. Hunter would not have committed his crimes and hurt his family in such a profound way if he was not battling the demons and substance abuse addiction that followed him home from his wartime deployments,” Vargas wrote.
Prosecutors say Hunter should be sent to prison because he knowingly misspent $250,000 in campaign funds for more than a decade. That included Hunter’s ski weekend in Tahoe with his mistress, and hundreds of dollars of tequila shots, while his wife used the money for shopping trips to Costco and other family expenditures, according to court documents.
Hunter fought a 60-count indictment for 18 months, insisting that criminal charges against him and his wife were the result of a conspiracy of the “deep state” meant to drive him from office in the Democrat-dominated state.
“Our very democracy is at risk when a criminal like Hunter weaponize the tropes of fake news and conspiracy theories,” prosecutors wrote.
After getting re-elected in 2018, he and his wife, Margaret, both pleaded guilty to one count of corruption. Each faces up to five years in prison.