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DC consultant charged with breaking campaign finance laws

A Washington D.C.-based campaign consultant was arraigned Tuesday on charges he conspired to illegally finance several political campaigns in San Diego during 2012 and 2013.

According to court papers unsealed Tuesday, Ravneet Singh conspired with former San Diego police detective Ernesto Encinas and others to funnel more than $500,000 of illegal foreign money into San Diego municipal and federal campaigns.

Singh was arrested by FBI agents Friday. ElectionMall Inc., Singh's company that provided social media services and other campaign and election products to political candidates throughout the world, also was charged as a defendant.

According to the complaint, Singh and Encinas helped an unnamed foreign national donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to a series of candidates running for elective office -- including those running for mayor of San Diego during the regular election in 2012 and again during the special election in 2013.

Under federal law, “foreign nationals” are prohibited from making any contributions or expenditures in connection with any American electoral campaign -- whether at the federal, state or local level.

Knowing this, Singh and Encinas allegedly used a series of increasingly complex techniques to hide the fact that the foreign national they represented was the true source of these illicit campaign funds.

According to the complaint, Encinas wanted the next mayor to fire San Diego's chief of police and replace him with a person of Encinas’s choosing in exchange for the foreign national’s financial help.

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