The district attorney has a problem with dirty campaign cash.
Bonnie Dumanis received $10,000 in illegally laundered money during her failed 2012 mayoral campaign. More than a dozen additional contributions to her mayoral and 2014 DA re-election campaigns are under investigation by local and state authorities for possible money laundering. Federal officials have charged a Mexican businessman with making another illegal six-figure contribution to her mayoral campaign.
Dumanis hasn’t been accused of any crimes herself, but the depth and breadth of questionable campaign contributions she’s received is unmatched by any local politician. It’s unclear whether Dumanis has followed through yet on promises to return some of the tainted cash. She did not respond to requests for comment.
By law, there are limits on how much money individuals can contribute directly to politicians. Limit the money each person can give, the thinking goes, and you also limit the influence an individual donor has on elected officials. Illegal campaign money laundering occurs when a person skirts the limits by getting others to donate money and then reimburses them for the contributions.
Dumanis’ dirty money starts with donations tied to wealthy Mexican José Susumo Azano Matsura. Federal prosecutors have charged Azano with pumping roughly $150,000 in illegal contributions into Dumanis’ mayoral campaign starting in late 2011. Already, two of Azano’s co-conspirators have pleaded guilty in the case and admitted to city ethics investigators that they laundered Azano’s money to her campaign. Azano also is charged with making an additional $100,000 illegal donation to a political action committee that backed her mayoral bid as well as hundreds of thousands more in contributions to other politicians.
Dumanis’ problems don’t end with Azano. She also has received more than $14,000 in questionable donations from the local towing industry. Like the Azano cash, other politicians also got towing money, but Dumanis benefited the most. One Vista tow company owner has acknowledged laundering $2,000 through his employees to Dumanis’ mayoral bid. Most of the rest of questionable towing contributions remain under local and state investigation.
We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?
Am I the only one waiting for her to make a real comment regarding that reference letter Dumanis wrote for Azano's son? Never having met the boy, she vouches that he "will make an immediate and positive contribution to the student body," that he is "bright, energetic, compassionate and genuinely well-rounded," and is "an exceptional student and individual." She says only that she signed the letter written by someone else.
Is that what it takes? Can I get one for my son, who she also hasn't met? I'll even write it for her.
The DAs' office should be the expert on illegal contributions and protect the public from the practice NOT the recipient. Once the word hit the street that the DA was for sale everyone who want a favor jumped on board. I feel sorry for all the good DA's who now have to work for an office known as sleazy
"The district attorney has a problem with dirty campaign cash." Actually, for her, it doesn't appear to be a problem at all. Teflon Bonnie just keeps rolling on...
@David Crossley What is the take-home message? 1. People hesitate to take on a DA. 2. People wonder if this issue renders her less effective than she should be. 3. Perhaps another level of bureaucratic miasma is added to the whole mess. 4. It sure doesn't help anything. 5. See number 1.
Basically, the "take home message" is Bonnie does pretty much whatever the hell she wants, and as you state, no one challenges her.