Indian-American Sacramento-area based Congressman Ami Bera’s 83-year-old father has pleaded guilty to making illegal campaign contributionso his son’s campaigns in 2010 and 2012..
Babulal Bera, who could be jailed for up to 30 months, pleaded guilty in Sacramento before US District Judge Troy Nunley in the Eastern District of California.
The elder Bera pleaded guilty Tuesday to funneling $225,326 to back his son’s political aspirations in 2009 and an additional $43,000 in 2011. In both election cycles, Bera’s parents had already made their own contributions of $2,400 and $2,500, the maximum allowed under the law.
He admitted that in 2010 and 2012, he made the maximum allowable individual contributions to his son’s congressional campaigns in two of California’s districts during these years.
Mr Babulal said that he solicited friends, family members and acquaintances to make contributions, which he then reimbursed with his own funds to make campaign contributions in excess of the contribution limits established by federal law.
The government has identified over 130 improper campaign contributions involving approximately 90 contributors in the two elections. So far, the government has identified over USD 220,000 in reimbursed contributions relating to the 2010 campaign and over USD 40,000 in reimbursed contributions relating to the 2012 campaign.
Ami Bera is the only Indian-American lawmaker in the current Congress and is currently facing a tough re-election campaign against Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones to keep his seat in the state’s 7th congressional district.
A report in the Los Angeles Times said quoted the lawmaker as saying that he was incredibly saddened and disappointed in learning what his father did. He said that neither he nor any campaign aides were aware of the activities until being contacted by federal prosecutors.
“While I deeply love my father, it’s clear that he has made a grave mistake that will have real consequences for him,” Ami said in the statement.
He said since he first learned about the investigation from authorities, his team and he have cooperated fully with the US Attorney’s Office.
The report also quoted Acting US Attorney Phillip Talbert as saying in a news conference that “Congressman Bera and his campaign staff have been fully cooperative in this investigation” and so far there is no indication “from what we’ve learned in the investigation that either the congressman or his campaign staff knew of, or participated in, the reimbursements of contributions.
Mr Babulal had immigrated to the US from Rajkot, Gujarat in 1958.
A resident of California’s La Palma, Mr Babulal is scheduled to be sentenced by Nunley on August 4.