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New Yuksel campaign filing raises as many questions as it answers

Note: This story is more than 3 years old.

New Yuksel campaign filing raises as many questions as it answers

  • Yahya Yuksel and his campaign manager, Ivanna Ferra, before walking out of a press conference on July 15.
    Kathleen Dreier PhotographyYahya Yuksel and his campaign manager, Ivanna Ferra, before walking out of a press conference on July 15.

An updated campaign finance filing by crash-and-burn CD 2 candidate Yahya Yuksel corrects tens of thousands of dollars in errors in the original, but raises nearly as many questions as it answers.

An earlier report on campaign spending included seemingly implausible expenses, such as nearly $15,000 at a cell phone store and $2,040 in a single grocery-store trip, and didn't report any payments to staff or campaign consultants. It also seemed to include errors totaling about $10,000 in incorrectly stated receipts.

One of those staffers whose paychecks weren't showing up in the mandatory public ledger is Kenny Jacobs, who somehow worked some magic to get Yuksel on the ballot in a vanishingly short period of time. His candidate got the petition sigs, and Jacobs got paid, but that wasn't in the report filed by by Yuksel's father and campaign treasurer, Edip Yuksel.

Jacobs, who walked away from the campaign back in June, dropped a short thread on Twitter on Wednesday night, delivering some of his thoughts. Jacobs, familiar to local pol-watchers from his work for Gabby Giffords and others, said he's restricted by a non-disclosure agreement, but ventured that "Yahya's political aspirations are dead. Edip's psychological imperative of insinuating his ego into his son's campaign helped to kill the campaign, like a parasite killing the host."

"Edip Yuksel is one of the least responsible persons I encountered during my time at the campaign. Cut to the chase - the filing is inaccurate AF," Jacobs wrote. "No, it's not an intern's fault. I believe Edip Yuksel purposefully filed that way to mask particular disbursements."

Yuksel — disavowed by major local Democratic groups after his dismissive reaction to an allegation he raped a drunk teenage girl a decade ago, when both were in high school — walked out of a July 15 press conference before anyone could ask about the anomalies in his filings with the Federal Election Commission. Yuksel said he wouldn't drop out of the Democratic primary race in CD 2, which features six other candidates on the ballot.

Yuksel's hurried departure from that press conference precluded asking him about his campaign finances, including his claim that $1,200 in cash contributions was stolen along with a briefcase locked in a car in San Francisco in May, and getting clarification on reported expenses. The first mandatory finance report filed also showed that 16 percent of the campaign's total fundraising came from Yuksel's mother on June 30, the final day of the filing period. Apameh Bashar donated $2,600 to the campaign that day, adding to an earlier $100 donation. She also gave her son's campaign two loans that same day, for $2,000 and $1,000.

In the updated report, filed Friday by Edip Yuksel, the campaign no longer shows an expense of $14,818 on June 6 at Direct Paging. Instead, it shows it paid $148.18 to Cricket Wireless on that day.

The new report also shows payments to a half-dozen campaign staffers and consultants which were not included in the initial report, but offers no explanation as to how individual expenses were misstated by thousands of dollars nor how records of payments to campaign workers were previously left out.

Candidates for federal office are required by law to fully disclose their donations and expenses every quarter. The most recent deadline for filing covered the period through June 30.

Instead of an apparently phantom payment of more than $2,000 to Fry's on June 1, which had been listed in the report filed July 14, the new report shows the campaign paid a St. Louis political consultant $2,000 that same week. Diane Cuneo had been brought in to provide strategic advice to Yuksel regarding his background, including the rape claim dating to 2008 that he had tried to have sealed from the public.

Also new in the amended report is $2,500 paid to Robert Berrier for "communications consulting" from April through June. Berrier is now listed as having donated $2,700 to Yuksel on June 30. He had previously been listed as also loaning $2,700 to the campaign on that date.

Yuksel's mother, previously shown as loaning the campaign $3,000 on the last day of June, is now shown as not lending any funds, but still having donated a total of $2,700.

Jacobs is now shown as having been paid just less than $4,500, while Yuksel's campaign manager and girlfriend, Ivanna Ferra, was reportedly paid $2,650.

Also now appearing in the financial rundown is a May payment to a local private investigator, Ken Dagostino, recorded as being for "issue consulting."

Another new set of payments was to Apameh Bashar, Yuksel's mother, for just less than $225 for campaign events, as well as $250 to a social media manager.

The new report shows about $2,500 spent at local printing company the Gloo Factory; the previous filing showed about $900.

Also in the new report is about $1,580 paid to the owner of the building where Yuksel has his campaign office; the previous filing showed just $415.

Yuksel's father, Edip, filed the initial report on July 15, a day before the deadline. Edip Yuksel is the campaign's third treasurer; he replaced the candidate's mother in that position on July 14. The amended report was filed July 27.

According to the amended filing, Yuksel's campaign brought in $48,603 and spent $35,840. The initial summary showed total revenues of $37,410 (before any loans) and expenses of $30,407 — but that first campaign filing also showed itemized donations of more than $43,000 and itemized expenses of $28.400. The discrepancies were compounded by the more than $4,700 in unitemized donations and $5,700 in loans claimed on that form.

The updated FEC filing showed that Yuksel has received $30,500 in campaign contributions from outside Arizona, and $7,382 from donors within the state — including the $2,700 from his mother.

Correction: An earlier version of this report dropped a digit from one of Yuksel’s reported figures.

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