In obtained public records, The Leader has discovered that Michael Eggman, a current candidate for California’s 10th Congressional District, is possibly involved in the Ami Bera campaign contribution scandal that is seeing Bera’s father, Babulal Bera, possibly serve up to a five-year prison sentence for election fraud involving the finances of his son’s campaign.
Federal court papers in the matter showed Babulal Bera was responsible for a scheme that after he made the maximum allowable individual contributions to his son’s run for office; he then recruited others to make maximum contributions. In return Babulal Bera would “refund” the amount back to the contributors in violation of campaign finance laws
Federal Election Commission filed papers from Michael Eggman’s failed 2014 congressional campaign for California’s 10th Congressional District show that on June 23, 2013 ‘Eggman for Congress 2014’ donated $1,000 to the ‘Bera for Congress’ campaign. Seven days later, on June 30, 2013, Babulal Bera donated $1,000 back to ‘Eggman for Congress 2014.’
Additionally, records show Eggman’s contribution to Bera's campaign was the only campaign contribution from his committee that was made to any candidate.
“I wasn’t here during that time,” said Eggman Campaign Manager Josh Lord, when informed of the discovery on May 25.
“Though the 2013 contribution to the Eggman campaign from the elder Mr. Bera was a legal contribution, given the recent news, we are donating his contribution to Planned Parenthood to fight back against Jeff Denham’s assault on women’s healthcare access,” Eggman campaign.spokeman Robert Phillips said later in the day.
Phillips added that the contribution was “in stark contrast” to Denham accepting over $8,000 from Harry Baker after Baker was accused of sexual assault of a minor.
Ami Bera was elected to the 7th Congressional District in 2012 and re-elected in 2014. The charges his father faces apparently stem from activities allegedly begun while Bera was running against incumbent Republican Rep. Dan Lungren in 2010. Bera contributors gave at least $235,000 to a campaign committee and Babulal Bera later illegally refunded the amounts to contributors.
In a May 9 press release on the matter, Ami Bera said, “Neither I, nor anyone involved with my campaign, was aware of my dad’s activities until we learned about it from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and on the advice of my attorney, I have not discussed this matter or anything else regarding my campaigns with my father.”
On May 10 Babulal Bera pleaded guilty in Sacramento federal court to two felony counts of election fraud involving the finances of his son’s campaign committee. In court he admitted that during his son’s 2010 and 2012 campaigns for Congress he recruited a number of friends, family members and acquaintances to make contributions to the committee and reimbursed them with his own money.
It is unknown if authorities looked into continuing activities from 2013 and 2014.
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 4. The US Attorney’s Office has recommended that the sentence be no more than 2 ½ years.
“After Ami Bera’s father pleaded guilty to illegally reimbursing donors, these newest revelations suggest that Ami Bera’s campaign finance scandal goes deeper than anyone previously thought,” said National Republican Congressional Committee Spokesman Zach Hunter, when informed of the discovery. “With Michael Eggman and Babulal Bera’s donations coming within just seven days of one another, this exchange clearly appears to be coordinated.
“Michael Eggman should immediately return Bera’s tainted campaign cash and come clean with 10th District voters about exactly how involved he was with the Bera network,” Hunter added.
Current 10th Congressional District Incumbent Jeff Denham’s campaign strategist, Dave Gillard said he realized there was still a lot of investigation needed in the Bera incident.
“It was a very sophisticated scheme,” Gillard said. “His (Eggman’s) gesture with sending the money to Planned Parenthood doesn’t excuse his behavior.”
In 2013, Democrats touted Eggman as a “top tier” candidate who they believed to be “well positioned to win.” He ended up losing by double digits in the 2014 race.