Tony Cardenas

Campaign reports show that Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Los Angeles) has spent $306,470 of his reelection fund on legal services from five area firms. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Sarah D. Wire
May 5, 2016

U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas (D-Los Angeles) has poured more than $300,000 from his reelection campaign fund into legal services with five Los Angeles law firms in the last year, but his attorney says there is no indication the congressman is the subject of a rumored federal investigation.

More than a dozen people who have worked for or contributed to politicians in the San Fernando Valley have been subpoenaed by federal investigators in the last year, including an aide for the congressman’s district office who previously worked for him when he was a member of the Los Angeles City Council.

The $306,470 accounts for 40% of the $780,898 Cardenas has spent on his reelection campaign. He is being challenged by former Los Angeles City Council member Richard Alarcon and community advocate Benny Bernal.

The most recent report submitted by the campaign to the Federal Election Commission shows Cardenas paid $75,000 to the firms Jan. 19. Four of the law firms specialize in white-collar crime.

Last year an aide to the congressman, Gabriela Marquez, received a grand jury subpoena, which she reported as required by House rules. Weeks before, the FBI asked her if congressional employees were performing campaign work on government time, according to unnamed sources cited in Roll Call.

Six months later, several staffers to Los Angeles City Council member Nury Martinez, who replaced Cardenas on the City Council, received subpoenas to appear before a grand jury to discuss her 2015 campaign. The Los Angeles Times reported in January that some of Martinez’s campaign contributors — those who gave $5 or $10 — had been called before the grand jury or interviewed by FBI agents.

It is not clear if the subpoenas are related or not. Cardenas endorsed Martinez to replace him on the City Council, and she hired several members of his former staff after winning the seat.

Last year, Cardenas turned down The Times’ interview requests to discuss the grand jury subpoena. His campaign spokesman declined to discuss the investigation, instead providing a statement from attorney Gary Lincenberg of law firm Bird Marella.

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