Congressman Juan Vargas appointed Ernesto Encinas to Electoral College

Encinas contributed to Vargas' congressional bid

SAN DIEGO - A man at the center of a political contribution scandal was a member of the Electoral College in 2012, Team 10 learned.

Former San Diego police detective Ernesto Encinas is one of three men charged with siphoning more than a $500,000 from a Mexican mogul into the 2012 and 2013 San Diego election cycle.

One of the candidates alleged to have benefited is Rep. Juan Vargas, and according to the indictment, "candidate 2" -- who has been identified to Team 10 as Vargas -- received $30,000 in support to his political action committees. Encinas also contributed $3,500 to Vargas' congressional election in 2012.

When Vargas won his congressional Democratic primary, he earned the right to appoint one of California's electors. He chose Encinas.

View Electoral College signatures for Calif. in 2012:

In 2011, Encinas was managing the Pure Platinum Gentlemen's Club in San Diego as it was stripped of its liquor license. The club was caught selling drugs and dancers were caught offering lewd acts by California authorities.

"Due to the nature of the topic, I am not permitted to use any government resources to address this matter," Vargas press secretary Dianna Zamora-Marroquin wrote when Team 10 asked why the congressman picked Encinas to cast a vote on behalf of all Californians.

She forwarded Team 10 to a campaign email account, but has not returned calls or followed up through emails. A staffer at one of Vargas' congressional offices confirmed he is out of the district.

The chair of the Democratic National Committee was in San Diego Thursday helping to raise money for David Alveraz's mayoral run.

"It is impossible and irresponsible of me to comment on something that I found out through you telling me," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said when asked about her colleague's move to appoint Encinas.

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