Rohrabacher accuses campaign treasurer of stealing $170,000

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher says treasurer of his reelection campaign embezzled $170,000

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) said Thursday that a former treasurer of his reelection committee had embezzled more than $170,000 from the campaign.

“I am disappointed and dismayed by this betrayal of trust,” Rohrabacher said in a statement released by his attorney, Charles H. Bell Jr.

Rohrabacher has filed criminal complaints against the former treasurer, Jack Wu of Newport Beach, with the Orange County district attorney and state attorney general, according to Bell.

Wu, 44, is a longtime activist in Orange County Republican politics. He did not respond Wednesday afternoon to an email and voicemail.

Wu, who filed for personal bankruptcy in 1996, according to court records, ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Irvine in 1998, the Irvine Ranch Water District board in 2002 and the Newport Beach City Council in 2006.

In a column last year in the Orange County Register, Wu reminisced about smoking cigars with Tom Fuentes, the late Orange County GOP chairman, on a patio at Duke's Place, now the Balboa Bay Club. A Wu column in the Register the following week was headlined: “Newport Beach’s unethical investment of city funds.”

On Twitter, Wu’s brief profile says, “Kick ass for da Lord! Tax guy too.”

Wu was Rohrabacher’s volunteer treasurer for about seven years, according to Bell. The campaign committee is auditing its books for that entire period “to determine the exact amount of committee funds that may be been embezzled,” Bell’s statement said.

The alleged embezzlement came to light, according to Bell, when irregularities surfaced with the committee’s credit card. The committee “discovered that rather than about $185,000 cash on hand, its account had $187 in late May 2015,” Bell said.

The most recent report filed by Rohrabacher's campaign with the Federal Election Commission stated that the committee had $196,906 in cash on hand at the end of 2014.

Rohrabacher froze the committee’s bank account and replaced Wu as treasurer, according to Bell. Confronted with the allegations, Wu “admitted to taking approximately $173,500 in funds from the committee’s account,” Bell said.

Wu promised full and immediate restitution, “but as of this date has failed to do so,” Bell said.

Spokesmen for state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris and Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckus said their offices would evaluate Rohrabacher's complaint.

Twitter: @finneganLAT

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