Devin Burstein, a lawyer for Mr. Hunter, said the difference in sentencing was due, in part, to his client’s urging for leniency for his family. “Congressman Hunter was the first to advocate publicly for leniency on behalf of his wife,” Mr. Burstein said in a statement.
“As he told the court during his sentencing proceeding, any punishment in this case should be his alone because his wife and children had been through enough.”
Mr. Hunter was first elected to Congress in 2008, succeeding his father, Duncan L. Hunter, a 14-term congressman who ran for the Republican presidential nomination that year. The career-ending scandal for Mr. Hunter began in 2016 and 2017 when The San Diego Union-Tribune detailed his campaign spending in a series of articles.
Mr. Conover, one of the prosecutors, said the story caught the attention of federal authorities.
In 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California released a 47-page indictment describing how the couple used campaign funds to live beyond their means, overdrawing their bank accounts more than 1,000 times.
The indictment described a host of expenses unrelated to Mr. Hunter’s congressional campaign. There was $11,300 spent at Costco; $3,300 spent at In-N-Out Burger, Carl’s Jr., McDonald’s, Burger King and other fast food restaurants; more than $14,000 for a family trip to Italy for Thanksgiving; and $250 paid to United Airlines to “fly a family pet to Washington D.C., for a family vacation.”
Mr. Hunter had sought to blame his wife for the corruption charges, saying in a 2018 Fox News interview that she was responsible for the couple’s finances. “Whatever she did, that will be looked at, too, I’m sure,” he said. “I didn’t do it. I didn’t spend any money illegally.”
Even after Mr. Hunter was indicted, he won re-election in 2018. In December 2019, he pleaded guilty to the allegation that he misused campaign funds.