Ravneet "Ravi" Singh was one of two people charged Tuesday with conspiring to help a rich Mexican funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaigns of mayoral candidates in San Diego in 2012-13.
The candidates aren't named in the documents but two are believed to be District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis (R) and former mayor Bob Filner (D), who were competing in the nonpartisan 2012 mayoral primary.
According to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court of Southern California, the money was funneled through an independent expenditure set up by Ernesto Encinas, a retired San Diego Police detective who provided security for the Mexican citizen. Encinas was charged as was Singh's company, ElectionMall, Inc.
San Diego-based consultants who worked with Singh tell C&E they're "dumbfounded" by the allegations and didn't know him to be active in San Diego politics.
According to the Jan. 21 court filings, the IE initially received $100,000 from the unnamed Mexican citizen through a shell corporation and $3,000 from Encinas.
The IE made about $114,000 in expenditures in favor of Candidate 1, believed to be Dumanis, during the 2012 mayoral primary, including $86,000 on mailers and related services. She did not advance to the general election.
Citing email records, the complaint states that around February 2012, the Mexican citizen agreed to pay Singh and ElectionMall $100,000 for banner ads, display and text ads, and key word placements from Google that would help Candidate 1. The $100,000, delivered to ElectionMall's bank account through transfers from a Mexico-based company, was over and above what the Mexican citizen had already funneled through the committee. The expenses never appeared on a public filing.
Singh is also accused of approaching a general election candidate with Encinas in October 2012 to offer social media services. After the candidate asked for a price quote, he/she was told it would be "taken care of."
ElectionMall subsequently received a $190,000 transfer from the Mexican-based company, according to the court filing.
After Filner was recalled, Encinas then embarked on an effort to finance Candidate 4's campaign with the Mexican's funds. An informant, working with the FBI, subsequently conducted "ruse" meetings with him to gather evidence for the feds.
According to the court filing, the FBI is continuing to investigate Singh, ElectionMall, Encinas and the Mexican businessman for making "illegal campaign contributions and expenditures, as well as potential conspiracies to deprive the public of honest services through the improper influence of San Diego City officials."
Singh and Encinas are charged with falsifying records, knowingly making a contribution to a candidate for federal office in the names of other persons and making foreign national contributions and expenditures.
Singh did not respond to a request for comment from C&E.
The D.C.-based consultant, who is dubbed the "campaign guru" in the court filings, is known as a colorful figure. Shortly after the 2008 presidential election, Singh was touring Europe and South America billing himself as the man “responsible for the Internet campaign of Barack Obama,” according to Politico. In fact, Singh hadn't worked for the president's campaign.