Politics

Ami Bera's Father Pleads Guilty to Campaign Finance Fraud

Prosecutors say Babual Bera funneled more than $250,000 into son's campaign coffers

California Democratic Rep. Ami Bera lost his first bid for Congress in 2010 but narrowly won his Sacramento County-based seat in 2012. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The father of California Democratic Rep. Ami Bera pleaded guilty on Tuesday to making more than $250,000 in illegal campaign contributions during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.  

Federal prosecutors said Babual Bera, 83, made more than 130 improper contributions involving 90 contributors over two election cycles including his son's unsuccessful first run for Congress in 2010. Babual Bera faces more than two years in prison when he is sentenced in August.  

The elder Bera admitted that after he made the maximum allowable contribution to his son’s campaign, he “solicited friends, family members and acquaintance to make contributions, which he then reimbursed with his own funds,” according to a Department of Justice statement.  

At a hearing in Sacramento, prosecutors said the elder Bera was interviewed by the FBI in October, the Los Angeles Times reported .  

When asked by the judge if he was guilty of helping illegally funnel cash to his son's campaign, Babual Bera said through the interpreter, "I have, in fact, done the crime."   

Former California Rep. Doug Ose, who lost to Ami Bera in 2014, watched the father’s guilty plea from the courtroom audience, according to the newspaper.  

In a written statement provided to the newspaper, Ami Bera said he was "incredibly saddened and disappointed in learning what my dad did." He said that neither he nor his campaign aides were aware of the activities until being contacted by federal prosecutors.  

"While I deeply love my father, it's clear that he has made a grave mistake that will have real consequences for him," the congressman said in the statement.  

Ami Bera is considered to be one of the most vulnerable Democrats facing re-election this cycle. His Republican opponent in November will be Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones.  

The Rothenberg-Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rating for the race is Leans Democrat .  

Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter. Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.