Judge sets Sept. 10 trial for US Rep. Duncan Hunter

Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, center, leaves court Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, in San Diego. The indicted congressman is returned to court Monday for the first time since being re-elected to a sixth term amid corruption charges. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)PlayThe Associated Press
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A judge on Monday scheduled a Sept. 10 trial date for U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife on corruption charges, slightly more than a year after their indictments.

It was Hunter's first court appearance since defeating Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar last month by nearly 4 percentage points for a sixth term representing San Diego's eastern suburbs in Congress.

The congressman and his wife have pleaded not guilty to a 60-count indictment in August alleging they spent more than $250,000 in campaign finance funds on family trips, tequila shots, Costco shopping sprees and other items.

Hunter, 41, has called the charges a political witch hunt and said his wife oversaw his finances. She also was his campaign manager.

The Republican lawmaker and his wife, Margaret Hunter, entered court separately and had different lawyers. Duncan Hunter declined to speak to the media after the brief hearing as he was followed to his car outside the courthouse.

Attorneys for all sides told U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan that they expected the trial to last three weeks. The judge set a hearing for pretrial motions on July 29.

Hunter's father served nearly three decades as the congressman in one of the few safely Republican congressional districts in California. Republicans hold a 13-point advantage over Democrats in voter registration in the 50th District, which Hunter won by 27 points in 2016.

Hunter is one of two congressmen re-elected last month while indicted. Both were early supporters of President Donald Trump.

New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins is scheduled for trial in early 2020 on charges he leaked information about a biopharmaceutical company that allowed his son and others to avoid nearly $800,000 in stock losses. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI.

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Associated Press writer Julie Watson contributed.

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