Republican Assemblyman Joel Anderson, a one-time fundraiser for Republican Senator Dennis Hollingsworth has been found guilty of money laundering by California's official political watchdog group, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).
Assemblyman Joel Anderson reached a plea agreement with the FPPC where he will pay a $20,000 fine for the money laundering scheme he put in place to get around the California's campaign contribution limits.
According to the exhibits attached to Joel Anderson's plea bargain with the FPPC, Assemblyman Anderson steered $48,000 in contributions from five of his San Diego County donors to the Fresno County Republican Party in May and June of this year.
The Fresno County Republican Party then turned around, took a cut for administrative fees, and contributed $45,600 to Joel Anderson's campaign within days of receiving the contributions.
This money laundering scheme effectively allowed Anderson's five donors to give him $26,100 more than state law allowed.
After a San Diego Union Tribute story broke that uncovered this money laundering scheme, Joel Anderson invoked his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself in any criminal matter. However, he did return these contributions along with an additional $31,000 he had also received from the Fresno County Republican Party.
The Placer County Republican Party and Stanislaus County Republican Party also gave Joel Anderson's campaign $31,000 each. It turns out that all three of these County Republican Party's received $32,400 from Anderson before making the contributions back to him.
Anderson also returned those two contributions as the FPPC began its investigation into his money laundering scheme. Due to lack of sufficient evidence, the FPPC ended its investigation into this part of Anderson's money laundering scheme.
Like Anderson though, the Fresno County Republican Party did however make a plea bargain with the FPPC for its role in Anderson's money laundering scheme and has agreed to pay a $29,000 fine.
The District Attorneys of these three counties and the Attorney General may still look into the matter further given the seriousness of the conspiracy to violate California's campaign finance laws.
Anderson, who represents an Assembly seat in San Diego County worked as a fundraiser for Dennis Hollingsworth when Hollingsworth was running for the State Senate in 2002.
Joel Anderson is also a likely candidate for Dennis Hollingsworth's Senate Seat. Term limits are forcing Hollingsworth out of office. Hollingsworth is allegedly supporting Anderson in the race, which shouldn't be surprising as hypocrites usually stand with hypocrites.
If Anderson does run for the State Senate he will be facing Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone in the June Republican Primary. Many speculate that Anderson orchestrated the money laundering scheme because he was unable to compete with Jeff Stone's fundraising lead.
Given all that's happened now however, between money he had to refund and the $20,000 FPPC fine, Joel Anderson's money laundering scheme has cost him almost $160,000 that he can not use in his next campaign. With Anderson possessing such amazing financial abilities, is it any wonder that the state continues to be mired in a never ending budget crisis?
While the FPPC has come to a an agreement with Joel Anderson in this matter, San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis appears to be in the midst of a criminal investigation into this matter. Her public integrity unit refused to comment on whether there is or isn't a criminal investigation into Joel Anderson's admitted money laundering. That's usually a sure indication that there is one.
We also must note dear readers, that the law that Joel Anderson has admitted breaking is the same one that San Jacinto City Councilman Jim Ayres has been indicted for violating.
The only difference between Jim Ayres and Joel Anderson is the fact that Anderson has admitted that he conspired with others to launder larger sums of money into his campaign than state law allows by concealing the true identity of the donors.
Whereas Anderson freely admits breaking the law in his plea bargain with the FPPC, Jim Ayres denies the charges, which makes us wonder dear readers if it's only a matter of time before Joel Anderson is brought up on similar criminal charges by the San Diego District Attorney's office.
After all, Joel Anderson's plea bargain agreement with the FPPC is public record and could be used as evidence against him in any criminal prosecution.