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American Indian Congressman Ami Bera’s re-election is at risk due to father’s illegal funding

Father Babulal Bera pleads guilty to election fraud

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Ami Bera. Image: flickr
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The 83-year-old father of Ami Bera, the only Indian descent Congressman has pleaded guilty to illegally funding his son’s election campaigns with at least $260,000, putting at risk his re-election this year in November.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell announced Tuesday that Babulal Bera admitted to making contributions to Ami Bera’s two election campaigns fraudulently in the names of other people and over the legal limit.

Prosecutors have cleared Ami Bera of involvement in the campaign funding scam, but it makes his reelection prospects harder as he is already facing opposition in his constituency from trade unions in his own Democratic Party. He was reelected to a second term in 2014 by less than 1,500 votes after a bruising campaign. The race was the costliest House of Representatives campaign that year with the two parties together running up a tab of $21 million.

Babulal Bera and Ami Bera Image: fox40.com
Babulal Bera and Ami Bera
Image: fox40.com

Federal prosecutor Phillip A. Talbert told reporters on Tuesday that there was “no indication” that the Democratic Representative or his staff were involved in the illegal election financing and that they had cooperated with the prosecutors.

Ami Bera, a medical doctor who represents the from the 7th California District in the state capital area, told the Sacramento Bee newspaper that he had no idea that his father had illegally financed his campaign. He said that he has sent the money contributed by his father to the US government.

In 2010 Ami Bera lost his first election campaign for the House of Representative for which his father, a retired chemical engineer, contributed $240,000. The successful 2012 campaign received $40,000 from his father.

According to the Federal Election Commission, the maximum amount an individual can contribute to a candidate was $2,400 in 2010 and $2,500 in 2012.

Babulal Bera was charged in the federal court for the Eastern California in Sacramento before Judge Troy L. Nunley, who is to sentence him in August. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years on two charges, but is unlikely get the harsh penalty given his age. The Los Angeles Times reported that the prosecutors are recommending a prison term of upto 30 months.

Court papers said that Babulal Bera asked about 90 friends and relatives to send over 130 contributions to his son’s campaign in their own names and then he reimbursed them so that he himself will not appear to have exceeded the legal funding limits.

He is the third person of Indian descent to run afoul of the election laws in the past two years. Conservative author Dinesh D’Souza was convicted in 2014 of illegally contributing $20,000 to the unsuccessful Republican Senate campaign of his college friend, Wendy Long. Although New York federal prosecutor Preet Bharara sought a jail term, the judge gave him a $30,000 fine and eight months of community confinement that allowed him to continue working.

Sant Singh Chatwal, a hotelier, pleaded guilty in 2014 to making illegal contributions of $188,000 to three candidates and was fined $500,000 and sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service. In an unusual move, the federal prosecutor in Brooklyn at that time, Loretta Lynch, did not disclose who received Chatwal’s illegal contributions. Media reports, however, identified one of the recipients as Hillary Clinton who received them when she ran for Senate. Lynch is now the US Attorney General.

The scandal casts a shadow on Ami Bera’s reelection bid in November when he will face the Republican Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones. He is up against serious opposition within his own party because of his support for President Barack Obama’s Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, which trade unions consider anti-labour.

Because of trade union opposition he was unable get the endorsement of his local party unit to run for reelection and he had to get the backing of the state party convention. Unions have held protests against him in his district and vowed to defeat him as they say 12-nation TPP will lead to loss of jobs and lower wages in the US because of the cheaper imports it will allow.

Ami Bera’s 2014 victory was a nail-biter. On election night he was about 3,000 votes behind Republican Doug Ose, but as postal and other ballots were tallied over a two-week period he emerged the winner by just 1,432 votes.

According to media reports, Bera raised $3.7 million and outside organisations like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $6.5 million promoting him in the 2014 election. Ose raised $3.2 million and the National Republican Congressional Committee and others contributed almost $7 million to campaign for him. (IANS)

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Awakened to The Congress’s Blatant Support to Anti-Nation Forces

This time from foreign soil, Germany, Rahul Gandhi has spoken out his mind

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Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi.

By Salil Gewali

Sometimes I feel too confused that what makes a leader speak so badly about the country. Still more confusing is that the same leader is projected as the only fittest in the country to be the Prime Minister.

This time from foreign soil, Germany, Rahul Gandhi has spoken out his mind. With gay abandon he claimed the lack of employment is the cause behind the rise of ISIS. If we analyze such statement objectively, we see that the unprecedented danger is looming large around this country not because of the citizens but because of the irresponsible leaders.

Is it not too shocking that we tolerate a bunch of leaders all through who, with impunity, tramples upon prudence and embrace the fickleness by speaking with such rashness? The ridiculous ranting is what Rahul Gandhi is good at. How many immature gaffes he has committed in last one year. One finds it too sickening to see people defending what Rahul utters out? Again, to his party’s sycophants, each word spoken out by him is worth its weight in gold.

Could any conscious people come across the board to evaluate what will be the likely repercussion when the projected leader goes to the extent to connect the unemployment of youth with ISIS? What do you say — if a certain father harps on that his children will be dagger-wielding murderers if they will not get jobs? What message does it send out? Will such ideas not “viciously affect” the thought process of the children in future? One wonders how the constitution allows the leaders to speak out such dangerous language. Will it not encourage the treasonous activities within the country leading to the decline of the security and sovereignty of the nation?

Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi.

Despite the height of stupidity, Rahul Gandhi is capable to earn more admirers then criticizers. Is it a pointer to the fact that one man’s loss of sense should lead to the “loss of sense” of other intellectuals? Or do we love an “individual” from a particular family more than our own “country”? On what ground is an “individual” more respect-worthy than the “party”, country and its constitutional ethos? This is in fact a very ominous trend which this country is witnessing now.

True, our Indian polity needs a strong opposition. People do not disagree at all that Congress should not be the one. Yes, this party can alone match well with the rival BJP. But sadly, the party is failing when Rahul started to become more vocal. The party with so smaller number of MPs has not yet “acknowledged” that its rapid decline now is because it continues to sing a hymn to one family only. The conscious Congress party leaders should come down to the ground and critically assess the people’s opinions and their concerns. They all have been intensely disillusioned by the dynasty politics.

Has this “family” not pleasantly ignored a very learned and seasoned leader Pranab Mukherjee by reducing him to just a rubber stamp?  Are Sachin Pilot, Ghulam Nabi Azad, C. P. Joshi, Ashok Gehlot, Jyotiraditya, Scindia, Priya Dutt, less Indian? If BJP can groom Kiren Rijiju why can’t Congress groom the astute leader of the northeast like Gaurav Gogoi or Vincent Pala or Mukul Sangma ? No exaggeration, Sachin Pilot could diplomatically handle the political situation and articulate the party policies far more maturely than entire Gandhi family members put together.

Enough is enough. People now anxiously await the REVIVAL of political parties with vibrant faces who genuinely love the country. We have seen enough of the anti-nation activities incited by the Gandhi family.  It’s totally wrong to be the puppets of a wrong family and spell doom for the nation. PM Modi rightly says that service to the country is far more important than the service to the family.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter: @SGewali.

One response to “Awakened to The Congress’s Blatant Support to Anti-Nation Forces”

  1. During the UPA/Congress government there had been numerous terrorist attacks, Mumbai trains, Zaveri Bazar, 26-11, plus the attacks in Ahmedabad, Pune etc. Was this situation because the terrorists could not find jobs during their rule? Compared to that there are very few terrorist attacks in India in last four years. So the terrorists must be gainfully employed in last four years !