class="mt-image-right" style="float: right; margin: 0 0 20px 20px;" />The federal grand jury that has been calling in East Valley political aides appears to be looking at small campaign contributions included on reports so that Councilwoman Nury Martinez could qualify for city matching funds, the LA Times' David Zahniser reports.
If there is a legal problem, it's not with the size of the contributions — often just $5 or $10 — but with whether the donations were recorded improperly to meet new rules for qualifying for matching taxpayer funds to help finance Martinez's campaign.
An excerpt from Zahniser's story:
Seven weeks before L.A.'s 2015 municipal election, political aide Caesar Huerta was on the hunt for campaign donations.
His boss, City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, needed contributions from 200 of her constituents to make her campaign eligible for up to $100,000 in taxpayer funds. Huerta, a field deputy, turned to aunts, uncles, cousins and others in his immediate circle, asking for as little as $5, according to several members of his extended family.
Since then, Huerta and at least eight of his relatives have been questioned by FBI agents, called to appear before a federal grand jury, or both, family members told The Times.
"I'm not really into politics. I was doing this to support him and his cause," said Panorama City resident Alexandra Galarza, one of at least 18 Huerta relatives listed in city records as Martinez donors. "I never thought giving $5 would make me go to federal court."
At least one aide to Rep. Tony Cardenas who had supported Martinez also has been brought in to the grand jury, but Zahniser cautions, "The target of the federal investigation into San Fernando Valley campaign activities remains unclear."
Previously on LA Observed:
Feds looking at small donations to Nury Martinez