Political candidate website design and hosting company ElectionMall and its CEO are facing charges of facilitating illegal foreign contributions to two candidates in San Diego’s 2012 mayoral race.
According to the complaint (PDF) released on Jan. 21, ElectionMall, ElectionMall founder and CEO Ravneet Singh, and retired police detective Ernesto Encinas are listed as defendants on charges of helping an unnamed Mexican businessman illegally funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars into San Diego mayoral and congressional races from 2011 to 2013.
According to the complaint, Singh was the “Straw Donor” who helped the foreign individual, who witnesses say had an interest in influencing San Diego electoral politics, make campaign contributions to San Diego mayoral candidates. Singh allegedly took money from the individual, deposited it in one of his corporate bank accounts, and then divided the money among other bank accounts he controlled to sidestep contribution limits and hide the source of the funds.
The candidates who received the foreign contributions were not named in the complaint, but it’s suspected that they are San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and former mayor Bob Filner.
Dumanis used ElectionMall’s mass emailing, fundraising services, and hosting services. And she has taken heat for not reporting these services on her campaign’s financial disclosures given that San Diego election laws forbid candidates from accepting anything of value from a company – which presumably includes web hosting and online services.