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Rep. Hunter's Self-Imposed 50% Pay Cut to End After This Session

March 12, 1994|JAMES BORNEMEIER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Shortly after he was caught up in the House bank overdraft scandal in early 1992, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-El Cajon) announced that he would turn back half of his congressional paycheck until the unemployment rate improved in his district by 2 percentage points.

It didn't. It got worse.

So having already donated $64,000 to the U.S. Treasury--and facing the prospect of nearly $130,000 by the time his term is up--Hunter on Friday announced that the self-imposed sacrifice will come to a halt at the end of this session of Congress.

Calling the half-pay diet "a real character-builder," Hunter said lots of other Americans are "having a tough time all over the country. This is no big deal."

If he's reelected to an eighth term, Hunter says he'll "start fresh" and end his personal deficit-reduction program. Hunter had signaled earlier this year that he was thinking of revising the half-pay regimen but didn't confirm until Friday that the new arrangement would return his full salary to the family checkbook.

Hunter admitted early in 1992 to 399 overdrafts at the House bank. Afterward, he flew home and toured his district, spreading the cursed checks on a card table at every stop. Several days later, to the apparent amazement of aides, he announced the half-pay penalty.

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