CA secretary of state taps Singer amid donation flap

SACRAMENTO: Kevin Shelley (D), California's embattled secretary of state, has hired Singer Associates to help with communications strategy and media relations concerning a campaign contributions scandal.

SACRAMENTO: Kevin Shelley (D), California's embattled secretary of state, has hired Singer Associates to help with communications strategy and media relations concerning a campaign contributions scandal.

Shelley has been beset by a scandal over donations to his successful 2002 run for state office.

A San Francisco nonprofit apparently used more than $100,000 from a state grant to pay two people and two companies, who then made nearly identical donations to Shelley's campaign, creating the appearance that the nonprofit group was used to funnel money to Shelley. The money allegedly came from a taxpayer-financed grant Shelley oversaw when he was in the California assembly.

Since that first bombshell hit in mid-August, other allegations have come to light, including five top donors to Shelley who failed to file campaign finance reports with the state.

Shelley has said he doesn't accept illegal contributions and has called for an investigation. The FBI is considering an investigation, as is the state attorney general and the state election panel.

The scandal has dominated the news, with heavy coverage from the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and The Sacramento Bee.

"We are working to get to the bottom of what appears to be some tainted contributions," said Sam Singer, president of Singer Associates. "Our shop is helping to deal with the politics of the matter and news-media inquiries. What we have been successful at is separating the secretary of state from the alleged misdeeds of some contributors. [Shelley] did not do anything wrong."

While there is the possibility of both federal and state investigations, Singer said right now he is focused on the court of public opinion and making sure that the media and public know that the accusation involves donors, not Shelley.

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