Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis was questioned by FBI agents about her involvement in a 2012 fundraiser for the Obama reelection campaign, but she contends that there was no wrongdoing on her behalf, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Solis, who is a candidate for Los Angeles supervisor, had “cordial” talks with the FBI in November eight months after she was the main speaker at the fundraiser in the La Fonda supper club in Los Angeles, says Steve Barkan, her campaign adviser.
The event was thrown by the Latino community to support President Barack Obama’s reelection bid. The federal Hatch Act bans Cabinet members from directly raising campaign money, although they are approved to give speeches at fundraisers.
In a statement on Monday, Barkan said: "Solis knows that the Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from personally soliciting campaign donations. She believes that her participation in the (fundraiser) was proper and does not believe that she has done anything illegal or improper."
But he refused to reveal whether Solis had informed Obama that the FBI had quizzed her about the fundraiser, saying, "It is inappropriate for a Cabinet official to (discuss) private communications with the president."
Barkan said that Solis does not know whether the FBI is continuing with its inquiries into the fundraiser.
The Times report says, quoting two sources familiar with the case, that the FBI had asked Democratic California state Sen. Kevin de Leon whether Solis had solicited his support for the fundraiser.
The interview took place several months after she had resigned as Labor secretary early last year. Financial information shows that de Leon did not make a donation to Obama’s campaign.
Solis admitted that she hired the Washington law firm Sidley Austin during her final year in the Obama Cabinet "to address legal issues" involving the fundraiser. Barkan said Solis had repaid a debt of more than $50,000 to the legal firm.
Asked whether Solis quit her Cabinet post due legal problems tied to her legal bill, Barkan added, “She made her decision to return to her home for two reasons: to assist her family, including her recently widowed mother, and to explore serving again at the local level."
Solis is thought to be the favorite in the race to succeed Supervisor Gloria Molina, who is retiring due to term limits, the Times says.
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