Ravneet Singh, head of a Washington DC political firm, was arraigned today (January 21) on charges that he conspired to steer illegal foreign money into San Diego political campaigns. Also charged was retired San Diego police detective Ernesto Encinas, who allegedly worked with Singh.
Together, they funneled more than $500,000 of illegal foreign money into San Diego municipal and federal campaigns, primarily in 2012 and 2013, according to the charges.
Singh heads a company named ElectionMall, Inc., and Encinas was owner of a private security firm. According to the complaint, Encinas wanted the next mayor to fire police chief William Lansdowne and replace him with a person of Encinas's choosing.
Among the campaigns in which illegal foreign money was funneled were the 2012 San Diego mayoral campaign, a 2012 congressional campaign, and the 2013 special mayoral election.
Under United States law, foreign nationals are prohibited from making contributions in American elections. According to the complaint, Encinas helped disguise the contributions through use of shell companies. The unidentified donor is a resident of Mexico. A so-called "straw donor," owner of a California company and a friend of the foreign national, assisted in the illegal donations.
Mike Lipman, attorney for Singh, said his client "denies any involvement or improper or illegal activity and intends to vigorously defend himself against the unfounded charges."