A Dubious Explanation!
Joe Nelson, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/11/2011 07:00:22 PM PDT
A potentially illegal campaign contribution to San Bernardino County Supervisor Janice Rutherford has prompted her to require all donors to her campaign to acknowledge that the money they are contributing is their own.
Rutherford, who recently proposed campaign finance reforms in the county, said she received a telephone call about a month ago from someone informing her that a $1,000 contribution to her campaign, given on July 29, 2010, by Rancho Cucamonga hair stylist Hank Beffre, may have been a pass-through contribution from Upland contractor Raul Madrid.
A pass-through contribution, a potential felony offense and punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 by the state Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), is when a donor, wishing to conceal their identity on campaign finance records, has a third party contribute on their behalf. The true donor either reimburses the third party for the contribution or provides the money up front.
The caller, whom Rutherford would not name, had seen something written on a local blog about the questionable contribution and contacted her, Rutherford said Tuesday. She said she contacted the District Attorney’s Office and reported it, but was unaware of the status of the investigation.
District Attorney spokesman Christopher Lee declined to comment.
“The fact that this sort of thing happened just speaks to our need for campaign finance reform in this county,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford said she will now require all donors to her campaign to sign a form acknowledging that the money they are contributing is their own.
Neither Madrid nor Beffre could be reached for comment on Monday and Tuesday.
Prosecutors have taken an aggressive approach to such transgressions in recent years. In April, the state Attorney General’s Office charged Supervisor Neil Derry with three felonies for failing to report a $5,000 campaign contribution from a Highland developer.
Prosecutors alleged that Derry laundered the contribution through a political action committee controlled by former county Assessor Bill Postmus.
In July, Derry, under a plea bargain, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of failing to report a campaign contribution and was ordered to pay a total of $10,000 in fines to the Fair Political Practices Commission and the court. He was also sentenced to three years probation, but will be able to remain in his elected position.
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