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El Monte Councilwoman Who Held Fundraiser for Veterans and Community Organizations Has Failed to Donate the Money

BY BRIAN HEWS • APRIL 27, 2020

During this time of a global pandemic, most organizations that rely on donations are scrambling to devise new ways to raise money.

But what they don’t expect is an organization or person, who pledged donations months prior to the outbreak, denying payment of the promised money later on.

Martinez-Muela

But that is exactly what El Monte City Councilwoman Victoria “Vicky” Martinez-Muela pulled on local organizations in her own city.

And that move could put her squarely in the sites the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission and the F.B.I.

Back in November 2019, Martinez-Muela held a Friendsgiving fundraising event to “celebrate the holidays and support sponsorships of youth sports, veteran and community organizations.”

The event was held at the Holiday Inn in El Monte from 6-8 pm, “in the bar area.”

According to the promotional flyer obtained by Hews Media Group-Los Cerritos Community Newspaper, all contributions were to be made payable to Martinez-Muela’s campaign committee, Martinez for Council 2015, ID# 1337681.

 

 

And it was noted on the flyer that  “Contributions are not tax deductible.”

Most youth sports, veteran and community organizations are registered as 501(c)(3) companies; all donations to those organizations are tax deductible.

Using best practices, if the fundraiser was targeted specifically for the organizations, the checks should be made payable to those organizations, not Martinez-Muela’s campaign committee.

Sources who attended the fundraiser told HMG-LCCN that Martinez-Muela told everyone, “the money was going to several local El Monte organizations in need of donations.”

But, over four months later, during a pandemic that is squeezing all non-profit organizations, Martinez-Muela has yet to give the money to those organizations.

Hews Media Group-Los Cerritos Community News has obtained Martinez-Muela’s campaign finance documents (460’s) for the year ended December 31, 2019.

An immediate red flag went up when it was found that Yolanda Miranda is Martinez-Muela’s treasurer.

 

Document showing Yolanda Miranda as treasurer of Martinez-Muela’s campaign committee. Miranda was associated with Ron and Tom Calderon for years and ran Ron’s defense fund after his indictment.

 

Miranda has a very checkered past in East Los Angeles politics going back many years. She worked as treasurer for current Central Basin Director Robert “Bob” Apodaca, who was sued for sexual harassment and eventually settled the case, costing rate-payers over $700,000.

Her company, Yolanda Miranda and Associates, had a long association with former Bell Mayor George Cole convicted in the now-infamous city of Bell scandal.

Of particular note is the fact that Miranda had very close ties to Ron and Tom Calderon, acting as their treasurer not only for campaigns but running Ron’s legal defense fund after he was indicted on bribery and money laundering charges.

The 460’s show Martinez-Muela did indeed take in thousands at that November Friendsgiving fundraiser.

But those same 460’s show that Martinez-Muela did not disperse any funds to the organizations she targeted as recipients of her fundraiser.

Document showing the only expenses related to the campaign were payments to the credit card companies, no checks cut to the organizations related to the fundraiser.

 

The lack of payment to the organizations has made many accuse Martinez-Muela of money laundering, similar to what Ron and Tom Calderon were indicted for in relation to their non-profit, Californians for Diversity.

One source, who was at the fundraiser, commented to HMG-LCCN, “why would she ask the checks be made out to her campaign committee and not the YMCA? The next day she could get a ‘grip and grin’ picture handing YMCA officials the check and score big political points, instead she holds on to the money?”

The 460’s were dated December 31, 2019 – the last reporting period – so HMG-LCCN contacted Martinez-Muela asking if she had made payments after December 31.

In a short emailed response on April 9, Martinez-Muela admitted she had not yet donated the money and blamed the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak for her inaction.

Martinez-Muela wrote, “due to the COVID-19 situation, all distribution of funds have been put on hold. I look forward to giving to local charities once this situation is resolved.”

Martinez-Muela was reminded that the fundraiser was November 20, three months prior to the outbreak, and that the targeted organizations are now in dire need of the money.

Martinez-Muela wrote back, “thanks….I will take that into consideration.”

One person, who asked to remain anonymous, and actually wrote a check to Martinez-Muela, told HMG-LCCN, “It’s very disappointing that someone that has been in office for so long would raise money under false pretenses and refuse to donate the money, especially now when so many worthy organizations need the help.”

In March of this year,  Martinez-Muela sent out a text informing her followers that she would be seeking re-election in November, this while she was withholding the donations from the fundraiser.

“After months of consideration, I want you to know my commitment to serve as your Councilwoman remains. I love the city of El Monte…I will be seeking re-election in November….that’s 244 days to earn your vote.”

The person who wrote the check to Martinez-Muela commented, “she better not use my money for her campaign, I will report her to the FPPC.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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