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Pictured: Thayne Whipple, current president of the Ojai Unified School District Board of Trustees. 

by Alex Wilson

Ojai Unified School District Board President Thayne Whipple says he’s shocked to face indictment in a high-profile federal campaign finance case involving over $3,500,000 in illegal contributions allegedly benefiting Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign.

“The allegations came as a complete surprise to me. I have contributed to political candidates, nothing more and nothing less,” Whipple said in a prepared statement, while declining to answer questions.

A 64-page grand jury indictment unsealed last week names Whipple and seven co-defendants: Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja, George Nader, Roy Boulos, Rudy Dekermenjian, Mohammad “Moe” Diab, Rani El-Saadi and Stevan Hill.

Prosecutors say Whipple donated money funneled by Khawaja, a Los Angeles business executive and associate of Whipple’s, to avoid exceeding contribution limits, and lied to the FBI. Khawaja funds both Democrats and Republicans, and contributed $1,000,000 to President Trump’s inaugural committee.

Whipple is a relatively minor player in the complex, 53-count indictment. Co-defendants Khawaja and Nader allegedly made excessive contributions to gain influence with Clinton and an unidentified foreign government.

Whipple says he’s hopeful the case will resolve in his favor.

“I have to trust as the facts are presented my name will be cleared,” said Whipple. “My perception is that the courts are being used for political reasons, and unfortunately I have become a victim of that.”