Lobbyist is third person charged in widening San Diego campaign finance scandal

SAN DIEGO – A lobbyist is the latest person to be charged in a widening scandal over more than $500,000 that allegedly was funneled illegally from a Mexican businessman to San Diego political campaigns.

The U.S. attorney’s office says Marco Polo Cortes appeared Wednesday before a magistrate judge on a single count of conspiracy to commit offences against the United States. The 44-year-old San Diego lobbyist is accused of working with two other men who already were charged with directing tainted money to San Diego mayoral and federal campaigns in 2012 and 2013.

The complaint doesn’t name the Mexican businessman, saying only that he owns homes in California but cannot donate to political campaigns because he is not a U.S. citizen or legal resident.

Cortes’ court-appointed attorney Charles Guthrie declined to comment.