When news broke that Los Angeles school board president Ref Rodriguez was caught up in a criminal case over his campaign contributions, friends and foes alike were baffled.
Rodriguez, who won his school board seat in 2015, legally could have poured as much of his own money as he liked into his upstart campaign. So why would he, as prosecutors claim, have arranged for others to donate and then use his funds to illegally pay them back?
That question looms large as Rodriguez faces three felony charges, including perjury and conspiracy, in what investigators call a campaign money-laundering scheme.
“It’s one of the most unusual money-laundering cases I’ve ever seen, maybe the most unusual,” said Bob Stern, co-author of the landmark California Political Reform Act. “There are no limits on how much he can contribute of his own money. So why would he do this?”
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