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McLeod's cash stash spurs questions about re-election plans

Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Ontario)
Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod (D-Ontario)

Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod, a first-term Democrat, represents Chino and other Inland area cities in Congress, but she has tucked nearly $1 million in an account designated for a 2014 county supervisor campaign.

Despite the massive cash stash, McLeod declined comment Thursday on whether she would leave Congress to run for San Bernardino County supervisor after longtime incumbent Gary Ovitt announced he will not seek another term representing the west county district.

Local journalists who looked at the $900,000 sitting in the Gloria Negrete McLeod Supervisor 2014 committee called her a frontrunner to replace Ovitt. Assemblyman Curt Hagman of Chino Hills is termed out this year, and has said he's running to replace fellow Republican Ovitt in the nonpartisan office.

The money is left over from her state Legislature campaign and officeholder campaign committees, said Alfonso Sanchez, McLeod's chief-of-staff. 

There are few places she can legally stash the money she raised while serving in the state Legislature. Federal law bars her Congressional campaign from using contributions she raised while in the state senate from 2006-12. And state law requires her to close out her state committees by giving it to candidates, charity, creating a nonprofit or putting it into a future candidate committee.

She has made some charitable and political donations. She transferred the bulk of her state committee money to the 2014 supervisor committee. She moved $649,000 of it in 2010, and another $201,000 in 2012. She also raised $51,000 for the supervisor committee in 2011.

The 2014 supervisor committee has $900,287 as of the most recent filing deadline, in June 2013. McLeod, 72, has not yet decided what to do with the money, said Sanchez, who described it as "a legacy" of her years in the state Legislature.

The money's movement between state and county campaign committees brought McLeod under recent scrutiny by the Federal Elections Commission.

In 2012, Riverside resident Steven A. Figueroa filed a complaint against McLeod. He alleged she improperly used some $30,000 from the committees to fund polling in 2011 to test the waters for both a supervisor and congressional campaign. Her attorney responded that about $16,000 of the money should not have been used for the polling and it was refunded to her senate and supervisor committees.  The FEC concluded that McLeod violated some federal campaign rules, but it dismissed the complaint, saying the violations were minor.

Meanwhile, she gives the appearance of running for Congress, maintaining a reelection campaign website. She has about $100,000 in her Congressional campaign committee.