Probe of Los Angeles Democrat's campaign donations ends over 'insufficient' evidence

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has ended its investigation into an L.A. city councilwoman’s 2015 campaign, citing insufficient evidence to pursue a fraud case against the Democrat, according to a report.

The investigation surrounded small-dollar donations used to match more than $65,000 in taxpayer matching funds for Councilwoman Nury Martinez’s reelection, The Los Angeles Times reported.

City election rules required that Martinez's campaign collect at least 200 donations of $5 or more from residents in her district to be eligible for matching funds.

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The district attorney’s Public Integrity Division said that while it found some of the donations were not made by the listed donor, “the evidence was insufficient to prove who was ultimately responsible.”

Several people told The Times they hadn't given donations to Martinez despite being listed as contributors.

One of them, Irene Salazar of Sun Valley, said she did not provide any money to Martinez’s 2015 reelection bid even though the city’s Ethics Commission lists Salazar, her husband, her son and her daughter as being $5 donors.

“In a criminal case, the prosecution bears the burden of proving each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt,” Alan Yochelson, head deputy of the district attorney’s Public Integrity Division, wrote. “Here, although our investigation showed discrepancies in the donor reports, we are unable to determine whether they are the result of fraud or simply poor record keeping.”

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Martinez in a statement said she was “pleased” with the decision. “We pride ourselves on adhering to the strictest ethical standards, and we have honored that commitment.”

Last year, some of Martinez’s staffers and small-dollar donors were called before a county grand jury.

The FBI is conducting a separate investigation and previously called some of Martinez’s donors before of a federal grand jury, The Times reported.

An FBI spokesperson would not comment on the investigation.