The National Republican Congressional Committee is running a television ad linking Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove, with “dirty money” and “fraud” while touting the record of Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a Republican running against Bera for Congress.
The advertisement attempts to tie Bera to the campaign finance crimes of his father while claiming that Jones “cleaned up Sacramento’s Sheriff’s Department.” Following is the text of the ad and an analysis.
D.C. politician Ami Bera. His campaign investigated for a money laundering scandal. Bera’s father sent to prison for illegally funneling over 200 grand to Ami’s campaign. Dirty money. Fraud. Ami Bera can’t be trusted.
Scott Jones cleaned up Sacramento’s Sheriff’s Department and put criminals behind bars. It’s why Jones’ fellow lawmen selected him as president of the California Peace Officers’ Association. Scott Jones. Strong, effective leadership.
Connecting Bera’s campaign with “dirty money” is fair, but linking Bera’s trustworthiness with his father’s criminal behavior ignores the fact that prosecutors found no evidence that Bera knew what his father was doing.
Babulal Bera pleaded guilty to illegally funneling money to Ami Bera’s campaigns in 2010 and 2012 and was sentenced in August to a year and a day in prison. Babulal Bera persuaded people to give the maximum amount of money allowed to his son’s campaigns and then reimbursed them. That let him sidestep the legal limit on how much he could give the campaigns. Prosecutors said he “orchestrated at least 130 fraudulent campaign contributions totaling more than $260,000.”
It’s true that the FBI investigation that led to Bera’s conviction scrutinized contributions made to Ami Bera’s campaign committee and included interviews with Ami Bera and members of his staff. But Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert said at a May news conference that there is no evidence that Bera or any members of his congressional and campaign staffs knew of Babulal Bera’s criminal activity. The Justice Department announced last month that the investigation has been closed and that no one other than Babulal Bera would be charged.
The ad’s assertion that Jones “cleaned up Sacramento Sheriff’s Department” is a stretch.
It’s true that Jones, first elected sheriff in 2010, was in charge of the county Sheriff’s Department during the recession and had to find ways to save money. But there is no evidence that Jones rooted out internal corruption or cronyism as the ad’s “cleaned up” phrasing suggests. Instead, the Sheriff’s Department has had to deal with serious problems under Jones.
The department lost a lawsuit in May by four female sheriff’s deputies who said they were retaliated against for complaining about discrimination and preferential treatment.
The lawsuit could end up costing the county more than $10 million. Much of the alleged retaliation occurred while Jones served as a captain in charge of the Sacramento County Main Jail and later as sheriff.
PoliGRAPH is The Bee’s political fact checker, rating campaign advertisements and candidate claims as True, Iffy or False.
Sean Cockerham: 202-383-6016, @seancockerham