Rep. Mary Bono Mack at her press conference on her new role as Chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade February 4, 2011. / Wade Byars, The Desert Sun

11:12 PM, Feb. 24, 2011 |
Written by PAUL C. BARTON
Desert Sun Washington Bureau

A man indicted on a charge of illegally funneling political contributions to two California legislative candidates also gave to past campaigns of Rep. Mary Bono Mack.

The Washington Post on Thursday described how potato grower Larry Minor of San Jacinto, who runs the firm Agri-Empire, and his family have been generous donors to candidates on both the state and federal level.

Following the recent release of his indictment on a charge of violating state contribution limits, Minor entered into a plea bargain that allowed him to avoid jail time by paying a $60,000 fine to the California Fair Political Practices Commission and serving three years’ probation.

The 14-count indictment, the Washington Post said, described how members of Minor’s family often followed his instructions for making political contributions.

On the federal level, Minor and his family members have given $32,000 to Bono Mack since 2007.

The Palm Springs Republican, in an interview Thursday, said her campaign staff does its best to vet contributors but that it often becomes a “sticky wicket.”

She added: “It’s awful when these things happen. There’s absolutely no way that we can know — that candidates can know — that people are violating the law on their end.”

Her campaign staff did nothing wrong, Bono Mack said.

Frank Cullen, her chief of staff, said if there were violations involved in the contributions she received, Bono Mack would return them or make an equal contribution to charity, a common practice for members of Congress when their donors get caught up in controversy.

The Post noted that most of the $32,000 to Bono Mack was donated in and around June 2008, when she persuaded Congress to pass a noncontroversial bill to settle water rights for the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians. The Lake Hemet Water District, for which Minor serves on the board, supported the settlement.

But Bono Mack’s staff denied any linkage between the contributions and the bill.

To read entire story, click here.