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.