Cam­paign staffer ac­cused of steal­ing

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By Michael Fin­negan michael.fin­ Twit­ter: @finneganLAT

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher ( R- Hunt­ing­ton Beach) said this week that a for­mer trea­surer of his re­elec­tion com­mit­tee had em­bez­zled more than $ 170,000 from the cam­paign.

“I am dis­ap­pointed and dis­mayed by this be­trayal of trust,” Rohrabacher said in a state­ment re­leased by his at­tor­ney, Charles H. Bell Jr.

Rohrabacher has f iled crim­i­nal com­plaints against the for­mer trea­surer, Jack Wu of New­port Beach, with the Or­ange County dis­trict at­tor­ney and state at­tor­ney gen­eral, Bell said.

Wu, 44, is a long­time ac­tivist in Or­ange County Repub­li­can pol­i­tics. He did not re­spond this week to an email and voice­mail seek­ing com­ment.

Wu, who ac­cord­ing to court records f iled for per- sonal bank­ruptcy in 1996, ran un­suc­cess­fully for mayor of Irvine in 1998, the Irvine Ranch Wa­ter Dis­trict board in 2002 and the New­port Beach City Coun­cil in 2006.

In a col­umn last year in the Or­ange County Register, Wu rem­i­nisced about smok­ing cigars with Tom Fuentes, the late Or­ange County GOP chair­man, on a pa­tio at Duke’s Place, now the Bal­boa Bay Club. A Wu col­umn in the Register the fol­low­ing week was head­lined: “New­port Beach’s un­eth­i­cal in­vest­ment of city funds.”

Wu was Rohrabacher’s vol­un­teer trea­surer for about seven years, Bell said. The cam­paign com­mit­tee is au­dit­ing its books for that en­tire pe­riod to de­ter­mine the ex­act amount of com­mit­tee funds that may have been em­bez­zled, Bell’s state­ment said.

The al­leged em­bez­zle- ment came to light, Bell said, when ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties sur­faced with the com­mit­tee’s credit card. The com­mit­tee “dis­cov­ered that rather than about $ 185,000 cash on hand, its ac­count had $ 187 in late May 2015,” Bell said.

The most re­cent re­port filed by Rohrabacher’s cam­paign with the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion stated that the com­mit­tee had $ 196,906 in cash on hand at the end of 2014.

Rohrabacher froze the com­mit­tee’s bank ac­count and re­placed Wu as trea­surer, Bell said. Con­fronted with the al­le­ga­tions, Wu “ad­mit­ted to tak­ing ap­prox­i­mately $ 173,500 in funds from the com­mit­tee’s ac­count,” Bell said.

Wu promised full and im­me­di­ate resti­tu­tion, “but as of this date has failed to do so,” Bell said.

Spokes­men for state Atty. Gen. Ka­mala D. Harris and Or­ange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rack­auckas said their of­fices would eval­u­ate Rohrabacher’s com­plaint.

Chip Somodevilla Getty I mages

MORE THAN $ 170,000 went miss­ing from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s com­mit­tee ac­count.

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