Election cycle after election cycle for decades, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher turned campaign donations into his family’s personal income by diverting money to relatives, including his wife.
In the last election cycle that resulted in voters finally booting Rohrabacher after 30 years, he gave more than $137,000 to wife Rhonda and her twin sister, Rachelle.
Rhonda received at least $5,158 a month supposedly for campaign manager duties and pocketed another $11,014 in the weeks after the historic loss, according to reports filed at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in Washington, D.C.
Rohrabacher—long Orange County’s senior career politician who campaigned originally in 1988 as a term limits “champion” but sought his 31stand 32ndyears in office—ran the perfect scam to bolster his perk-loaded $174,000 annual congressional pay.
FEC records show the self-promoted 71-year-old “surfin’ congressman” (who has been spotted confronting puny one-foot waves while lying on boogieboards) paid actual professional campaign managers and consultants at least $608,977 from contributions while pretending his wife was doing the work.
At several points over the years, the Rohrabachers personally consumed more than 20 percent of incoming, annual re-election campaign contributions.
Rohrabacher, hailed as Vladimir Putin’s “favorite congressman,” also diverted campaign donations to pay Donald Trump’s Trump International Hotel in the nation’s capital $11,000 at the same time he lobbied the White House for an administration position.
The Costa Mesa Republican wanted to impress the incoming president and his staff in early 2017, paying more than $130,667 in campaign funds for a post-inauguration food and booze-catered party, according to the FEC reports.
Because congress writes the rules that govern campaign spending and have given themselves extremely wide latitude, it’s not likely Rohrabacher’s suspicious disbursements violate any law.
The congressman took advantage of another financial loophole by launching fundraising campaigns to benefit birthday parties for his triplets, as the Weekly disclosed in 2014.
According to non-public records I obtained, 11 corporate executives, two billionaires, seven lobbyists, four corporations and two convicted felons secretly forked over at least $33,000 to Rohrabacher for just one of the parties.
The 15-term congressman was desperate to keep his lofty perch that gave him access to a continual flow of money. He spread at least two outrageous lies in his last campaign. He suggested to Little Saigon community voters, dominated by South Vietnamese war refugee families, that he fought in that nation’s combat against communists; when, in fact, he chickened out of all military service at the time. And he produced last-minute television ads proclaiming he forcefully supported pre-existing conditions legislative demands on insurance companies when, in undeniable fact, he spent his entire career thwarting such protections.
Harley Rouda now represents the coastal Orange County congressional district.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; earned six dozen other reporting awards; obtained one of the last exclusive prison interviews with Charles Manson disciple Susan Atkins; featured in Jeffrey Toobin’s The Best American Crime Reporting; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.