Congressman’s Father Admits Illegal Donations

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — The father of Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Federal Court to making excess campaign donations to his son’s successful 2012 congressional bid and other campaign-finance violations.
     Babulal Bera’s plea comes a day after he was charged with skirting federal campaign laws by illegally reimbursing Bera contributors with his own funds in order to avoid personal campaign donation limits.
     According to federal prosecutors, Babulal Bera, 83, began soliciting contributions from friends and relatives beginning in 2009. He eventually collected and illegally reimbursed more than $220,000.
     Prosecutors said they identified over 130 improper donations from approximately 90 contributors. They recommended a two-year prison sentence Tuesday.
     The criminal charges come as the younger Bera is running for reelection in the 7th Congressional District against Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a Republican. The congressional seat was hotly contested in 2014, with Ami Bera narrowly defeating Republican candidate Doug Ose by less than 2,000 votes.
     Ami Bera, 51, said in a statement that he was unaware of his father’s campaign-finance violations until he was contacted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He says his office complied with the investigation and that he has not discussed the allegations with his father.
     “My father taught me the value of hard work and, if not for him, I would not be a doctor. But he also taught me that we are all accountable for our own actions, and while I deeply love him, it’s clear he faces a grave situation that will have real consequences for him,” Bera said.
     Also on Tuesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee called on Bera to immediately return the hundreds of thousands of dollars that his dad solicited and laundered.
     “It defies belief that Rep. Bera was unaware of these activities, and 7th District voters deserve to know the truth,” NRCC spokesman Zach Hunter said in statement.
     Babulal Bera was released on his own recognizance and is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 4 in a Sacramento federal courtroom. The Southern California resident faces up to five years in prison and fines of at least $250,000 for each felony count.

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