Campaign funding scandal: Follow the money

Singh owns a Washington D.C. election mail service, and is known as an international election guru. The principal donor was Jose Azano Matsura, a Mexican national who coughed up $500,000 for the mayoral campaign and congressional campaigns in 2012 and 2013. It appears the cash was funneled to Singh, Encinas, and Marco Polo Cortes, a local lobbyist. When they discovered foreign money could not be used for campaigns, they set up a straw donor, La Jolla luxury car dealer Marc Chase, to hide the source of the funds.

According to attorney Vik Bajaj, this investigation is a long way from over.

“We're at the tip if the iceberg,” said Bajaj. “We're going to see more and more people getting indicted now as it kind of expands, and in a case like this it's interesting because the FBI, the federal government, they expand it as they wish.”

There's a good chance Singh may be cooperating, which could further expand the government's investigation.

“If this is an individual that's looking at potential prison time or ruining his career, there will be a lot of pressure on a person like Singh to cooperate with the government to provide information on other elections that he may have information on.”

Usually in cases like this, all the defendants named in the indictment appear in court together, but these appearances have been piece meal.

“It's a strategic move by the federal government to kind of expand the indictment in order to make sure that people who may be a potential suspect, they contact law enforcement and say 'hey, I may have something to say.'”

And this investigation may broaden to include other government agencies.

“You just don't hand over a bag of cash and say, 'good luck in the election.' So you have backing entities involved, which means the IRS may be involved, which means the FBI is involved with their administrative subpoenas to follow the cash, to follow the money.”

The campaign funds went to independent committees supporting Bonnie Dumanis, Bob Filner, Nathan Fletcher and Juan Vargas. While contact between the campaigns and the committees supporting them is forbidden, donations are made public, and attorney Bajaj says it should have been a red flag to the campaigns.

“At the end of the day. I think there is an affirmative duty for the people who are running for election to investigate where those funds are coming from.”

We don't yet know the motive for such large donations. There were reports Matsura was interested in developing San Diego's waterfront, and that Encinas wanted police chief Bill Lansdowne fired. Operas the trial will tell us.

Categories: KUSI