Yeah, we know that you’re distracted by Sony canceling The Interview and the U.S. normalizing relations with Cuba; it’s a big deal, we get it. So how about the story where the Ecuadorean government accused the Obama administration of accepting political donations from a wealthy family in exchange for political favors?
Oh, no? You haven’t heard about that one? Well, here we go.
According to a Times exposé, the government of Ecuador claims that several Democrats showed favoritism to the wealthy Isaías family, whose members are accused of bank and visa fraud, after they donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns.
Some of the accusations are well-known to people who follow US-Ecuador relations: Roberto and William Isaías, who currently live in Miami, were sentenced to eight years in prison for fraudulently profiting from a government bank bailout, which cost Ecuadorean taxpayers nearly $400 million. (The US refuses to extradite the two brothers, who currently live in Miami.)
But, as the Times reveals, they also happened to donate lots of money to Democrat candidates around the same time as a travel ban was lifted for Estefanía Isaías, Roberto’s daughter, who was barred from entering the U.S. after she was caught obtaining fraudulent visas for her maids:
For more than a year, Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, and his staff engaged in a relentless effort to help Ms. Isaías, urging senior government officials, including [then-Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, to waive the ban. The senator’s assistance came even though Ms. Isaías’s family, a major donor to him and other American politicians, does not live in his state.
The Obama administration then reversed its decision and gave Ms. Isaías the waiver she needed to come to the United States — just as tens of thousands of dollars in donations from the family poured into Mr. Obama’s campaign coffers.
An email from Mr. Menendez’s office sharing the good news was dated May 15, 2012, one day after, campaign finance records show, Ms. Isaías’s mother gave $40,000 to the Obama Victory Fund, which provided donations to the president and other Democrats.
The Times has even more details on massive donations to Democrat campaigns, as well as details of other US officials finding Menendez’s lobbying shady: “Such close and detailed involvement by a congressional office in an individual visa case would be quite unusual, especially for an applicant who is not a constituent of the member of Congress,” Linda Jewell, a former US Ambassador to Ecuador, told the Times. “This example of inquiry is substantially beyond the usual level of interest.” (Remember how they live in Miami and not New Jersey?)
Have fun reading this one. It’s massive.
[Image via screenshot]
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