The laws are clear: People are only allowed to give a specific amount of money directly to political candidates. For races in San Diego, for example, the limit is $1,050. When people try to go around the law and stream more than the limit into political campaigns, it’s called money laundering.

The district attorney is familiar with the problem of dirty campaign cash. Last year, the city found two associates of Jose Susumo Azano Matsura laundered $8,000 to District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’ unsuccessful 2012 mayoral campaign. The city also found the owner of NK Towing in Vista illegally used the names of four of his employees to donate $2,000 to Dumanis’ campaign.

Right now, city and state investigators are looking into whether more tow company owners laundered money to campaigns supporting Dumanis and four other local politicians over the past six years. If proven, it could represent the largest effort by an industry to illegally influence San Diego political campaigns in more than a decade.

On this week’s San Diego Explained, NBC’s Monica Dean and Voice of San Diego’s Liam Dillon set up at a local laundromat to tackle the issue of campaign money laundering and talk about why it’s a problem.

    This article relates to: Campaign Finance Scandal, Politics, San Diego Explained, Towing

    Written by Kinsee Morlan

    Kinsee Morlan is the Engagement Editor at Voice of San Diego and author of the Culture Report. Contact her directly at Follow her on Facebook or Twitter. Subscribe to her podcast.

    Don Wood
    Don Wood subscriber

    Heck; Jose Susumo Azano Matsura could have easily transmitted money to Dumanis' campaign by using the old stand-by

    the local GOP party and republican candidates use: Just make a big contribution to the Lincoln Club with the understanding that the club will forward that money immediately to Dumanis' campaign. Everybody else does it and doesn't get in trouble. Why not him?

    Phillip Franklin
    Phillip Franklin subscriber

    @Don Wood Good point Don.  But here is the best answer I can conjure.  When someone donates money directly to a politician they want that it be known to the politician that that donation came directly from them.  They are really not too concerned about  violating some local election campaign contribution law when they are directly contributing to the District Attorney.  San Diego has a very long history of corruption and most just don't concern themselves with these laws.  It  is business as usual for them.