- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Democratic Rep. Ami Bera said Wednesday he encouraged his family to make campaign donations to other Democrats whose families also donated to his campaign, a practice that experts say it’s not illegal but it is a way to avoid individual donations limits.

Bera, of Elk Grove, said he often asked his wife, mother and father to contribute to the campaigns of Democrats running in competitive contests and that those candidates or their relatives made similar donations to him but that they didn’t constitute “reimbursements,” he told The Sacramento Bee editorial board (http://bit.ly/1sqreT1).

The Bee last month reported that beginning in 2010, Bera and his family made large donations to other Democrats, and that those candidates or their families gave similar amounts to Bera, with contributions often made within days of one another.

“I don’t know if the families were talking to each other, or if the campaigns may have been talking at times. … Their finance person talking to our finance person,” he said.

Bera’s father, Babulal Bera, last month pleaded guilty to illegally arranging for nearly $270,000 in campaign contributions to his son’s 2010 and 2012 campaigns. He’s awaiting sentencing on two felony counts of election fraud.

Ami Bera is running for a third two-year term against Republican Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones in a key swing district.

His campaign has repeatedly said that the donations differ from the legal troubles of his 83-year-old father, who illegally reimbursed his son’s donors, and that he and his staff were unaware of his father’s actions.

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Information from: The Sacramento Bee, http://www.sacbee.com

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