Rep. Juan Vargas isn’t denying he may be the federal election candidate who got tied up in a campaign finance scheme involving a former San Diego police detective and the owner of a Mexican security firm.

Vargas, who sought and won the 51st District congressional seat in 2012, released this statement to Voice of San Diego Wednesday:

“Transparency is crucial to an individual’s faith in their elected officials and their government.  That is why I am shocked at these claims and, if true, am offended by the actions of these individuals.  If any contributions did not come from the disclosed source, I was not aware of it. Upon reading the  (U-T San Diego), I immediately contacted the DCCC and, out of an abundance of caution, urged its leaders to return funds received from those listed in the complaint.  I have also requested that if any funds have been contributed to my past or current campaigns from said individuals, they be immediately returned.”

The federal complaint unsealed Tuesday night alleges that Encinas, the former detective, approached a representative of so-called Candidate 2, wanting to donate cash from a foreign national. The politician’s representative – it’s not clear whether it was actually a staffer – apparently told Encinas that the foreign national would need to prove he had a green card if he wanted to donate.

The complaint says Encinas later helped the foreign national donate $30,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee with the help of a straw donor in early October 2012. The only $30,000 donation during that period came from car dealer Marc Chase of La Jolla.

U-T San Diego has reported that the foreign national is Mexican businessman Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, who owns a home in Coronado.

A source also told the U-T that the other candidates involved were San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, former Mayor Bob Filner and ex-mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher. The anonymous source did not identify the federal election candidate.

Encinas and Vargas also appear to have some ties.

Encinas donated $3,500 to Vargas’ congressional campaign between 2011 and 2012. Vargas later named Encinas to the electoral college.

We’ve asked Vargas for more information about his relationship with Encinas and specifically whether he’s the federal candidate described in the complaint. We’ll update this post if he responds.

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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