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Democratic State Sen. Juan Vargas, now running for the congressional seat being vacated by San Diego mayoral candidate Bob Filner, has been dipping into the campaign bank account of his senate campaign for cash to bestow on local charities.

Such practices are common in California politics, and known for giving an edge to incumbents who are usually in a much better position to raise and distribute campaign cash than their out-of-office challengers.

In Vargas’s case, he is facing off against Democratic ex-state Sen. Denise Ducheny in next year’s 51st district congressional primary.

According to the campaign expenditure database on the website of California’s Secretary of State, on April 8 the campaign gave $5000 to Border Angels, a non-profit group founded by Enrique Morones in 1986 that provides aid in the form of rural rescue stations for undocumented immigrants who find themselves trapped in the back country’s harsh wilderness after crossing the border.

On May 25, the campaign donated $1,144.00 to the Coachella Valley Teachers Association.

Then, on June 6, $2500 went to Chula Vista’s Southwestern College Foundation.

Last year, Susan Luzzaro reported here on the foundation’s reluctance to provide details of its income and expenditures after being queried under the state’s public records act, along with questions regarding contributions to the foundation made by contractors having business dealings with the college.

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