House Ethics Committee to Duncan Hunter: Stop voting because you're a criminal

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The committee has warned Hunter to stop voting on legislation in light of his recent guilty plea.

The House Ethics Committee sent Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) a letter on Thursday warning him not to vote on any business coming before the House of Representatives, following his guilty plea in federal court earlier this week.

The bipartisan letter informed the Republican congressman that he could face disciplinary action if he votes on any pending matter.

"This provision of House Rules was promulgated to preserve public confidence in the legislative process when a sitting Member of Congress has been convicted of a serious crime," Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX) wrote.

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"We emphasize in the strongest possible terms that if you violate the clear principles of this provision [by casting a vote], 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," they added.

Deutch and Marchant are the respective chair and ranking member of the Ethics Committee.

Hunter pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of misusing campaign funds. In the indictment laid out against Hunter, prosecutors said he used hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to subsidize a lavish lifestyle, including a  family vacation to Italy, private school tuition for his kids, and even flying his family's pet rabbit across the country.

Hunter allegedly used campaign cash to see his mistresses, some of whom were congressional staff members. His wife, Margaret, who was his campaign manager, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal conspiracy related to the allegations earlier this year and agreed to testify against her husband.

Hunter is the second House Republican to plead guilty to federal crimes this year. Former Rep. Chris Collins of New York resigned from Congress in early October before pleading guilty to charges related to insider trading.

Collins and Hunter were the first and second members of Congress to endorse Donald Trump during the 2016 election cycle.

Republican leaders have so far declined to call on Hunter publicly to resign.

A top Democratic aide told Politico this week that Democrats' "patience is not unlimited" in the matter.

Other Democratic operatives were more candid in their responses.

"He should f---ing resign," a longtime Democratic political operative from California said in a phone call on Friday. "This guy should not be in Congress."

The operative, who asked not to be named due to the sensitive nature of their current line of work, said Hunter's lingering presence in Congress "is embarrassing not just for him but for the entire country."

When asked about Republican silence on the matter, the operative said they believed Hunter "should be publicly disavowed by his party."

A sentencing hearing for Hunter is scheduled for March 17, 2020.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.