Some details are getting out about the federal criminal investigation that seems to involve City Councilwoman Nury Martinez and her staff. City Hall reporter David Zahniser reports in the LA Times that at least five East Valley residents who are listed on records as making small campaign donations to Martinez for her 2015 reelection campaign have been contacted by the FBI. Three of the five that Zahniser talked to said they have appeared before a federal grand jury.
Northeast Valley Democratic politics are notoriously feud driven and divided into rival cliques, and it's unknown what got the feds interested. But Zahniser says the investigation seems to be focusing on $5 and $10 donations, which helped Martinez qualify for more matching city campaign funds. She submitted the names of about 220 residents in her council district who had supposedly given small donations, a step now required by city ethics rules to enable a campaign to receive matching funds of $2 per donor. But Zahniser found reported donors who said they didn't give anything.
From the story:
Irene Salazar, who lives in Sun Valley, said law enforcement agents asked, in person and by phone, if she and three family members had donated to Martinez's campaign.
Records submitted by Martinez's campaign to the city Ethics Commission list Salazar, her husband, her son and her daughter as $5 donors. But Salazar says no one in her family provided contributions.
"None of us gave anything" to the Martinez campaign, said the 57-year-old janitor.
Adam Bass, a spokesman for Martinez, declined to comment. Roy Behr, a consultant on the councilwoman's reelection campaign, said in October that Martinez "understands from the U.S. attorney" that she is not a target of the probe.
"As far as she knows, that is still accurate," Behr said this week. He declined further comment.