The New York Times has been investigating a controversial immigration case that could present another challenge for Hillary Clinton as she prepares for her presidential run. At the center of the controversy is a rather disreputable character named Estefanía Isaías. A wealthy, well-connected Ecuadorean television executive, she was barred from coming to the United States after being caught fraudulently obtaining visas for her maids. However, the New York Times reports that the Clinton State Department intervened to get her into the country “so that Ms. Isaías could work for an Obama fund-raiser with close ties to the administration.” The newspaper also notes that her fortunes changed after “her family gave tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic campaigns.” Her family is accused of fraud costing the poor country $400 million. There are also serious questions being raised about the efforts of Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey in leading the intensive efforts to countermand the decisions of career officials in Washington and Ecuador in the case.
The Obama Administration is also refusing to extradite her father and uncle, Roberto and William Isaías, who were sentenced in absentia in 2012 to eight years in prison for running their bank into the ground and then presenting false balance sheets to profit from bailout funds. In the meantime, Ecuador says that Isaías bought protection in the United States and she continues to live in Miami off the profits of a looted bank in Ecuador.
Isaías had the added problem of filing false visa pretenses to get her maids into the country and then left them at her parents’ Miami home while she traveled. American consular officials called it “alien smuggling.”
Isaías was blocked from returning to the country. What followed was an intense effort for over a year by Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey get her the ban lifted. The Isaías family is a major donor to Menendez even though they do not live in his state. His staff reached out to Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills. The timing could not look worse. The day after an email from Mr. Menendez’s office told the family that they had secured a waiver from the State Department, Ms. Isaías’s mother gave $40,000 to the Obama Victory Fund, which provided donations to the president and other Democrats.
In 2012, the Isaías family also donated about $100,000 to the Obama Victory Fund. The Times reports that their largest donations came “just before a request to the administration.” Ms. Isaías’s mother, María Mercedes, also recently donated $30,000 to the Senate campaign committee headed by Menendez led who had two staffers working on her family’s problems. The effort involved contacts with the White House, State Department, the consulate, Homeland Security and others. All to get Isaías in the country against the determined opposition of U.S. officials. Menendez even lobbied Mills himself and eventually the Administration caved.
This is of course not the first questionable association for Menendez who remains under investigation by the Justice Department for his advocacy for another out-of-state campaign donor. We previously discussed that relationship with Dr. Salomon E. Melgen, who is notorious for controversial Medicare billings.
Here is the least convincing part of the story. When the New York Times confronted Menendez’s office, his spokeswoman Patricia Enright said, “Our office handled this case no differently than we have thousands of other immigration-related requests over the years.” Really, a year long, international effort for a non-constituent. Perhaps the statement should be ““Our office handled this case no differently than [any other major donor].”
Source: New York Times
36 thoughts on “Immigration Action By Obama Administration Raises Serious Questions Of Special Dealing For Democratic Donors”
Darren, you’ve offered a simple suggestion which should be taken seriously. Congress has not done it’s job for the States. The States know what their own State needs. Why should they send money to DC, then have DC give them less while telling them what they have to do or no money?
Simplify. The Federal Government is chaos. Give the States back their responsibilities as defined originally. There would be more accountability at the State level. What does a Senator in Vermont know about the needs of New Mexico? The system needs an overhaul
Are you still working on your Christmas list? THAT would be an awesome present! What you desire is the opposite of Orwell’s “1984”, right? Has the novel been written and/or movie made that depicted America as the founder’s envisioned?
Darren, “They don’t care who I want to marry and they don’t care if my children go to a charter school or a parochial one.”
The first part, about who you can marry, is finally getting resolved. You can marry any consenting adult except a sibling or a parent (That’s still against the law, isn’t it?) Of course, if you want to marry a sibling or a parent, I guess you would still have a gripe.
Maybe you can afford a private school, but what about those who still prefer the public school, or cannot afford a private school? Who’s going to fix/replace the leaky water and sewer lines? Who’s going to fix the potholes? Who’s going to keep the bandits from ripping you off and getting away with it?
I’m pretty sick of the wars and general corruption of government, but I think that reform is better than doing away with it altogether.
A 5-year budget makes a lot of sense. Remember that austerity budget that the Reps insisted on? The one that the Dems went along with so the government didn’t get shut down? The one that was sooooo bad that the problems would get fixed? Everything now seems to be based on tweaking that abomination with more cuts to social programs and increases to war making. Not that the war making needs a bigger budget since most of their funds are off budget.
That’s because there is plenty of water in the northwest. Ask someone who lives in SoCal. ALL resources are limited, I would rather have a soulless corporations w/ COMPETITION in charge of limited resource than the govt. which NEVER has competition. How much better would get a driver’s license be if it was outsourced.
Until the media truly feels shamed, and it’s looking pretty close, none of this will the public learn. Some House members are doing the jobs we sent them to do. I’m hoping to see younger members clean out the closets. We all know this country could be run better with fewer people. Because fewer people would mean fewer bills.
I think budgets should be cut from all House members. Then the ones doing good work (meritocracy) as Chairs of important committes, i.e., Gowdy, should receive additional funding for more staff, etc.
It would be harder for Senators, but having them justify on camera their line items might help. They know they cost more than they do. Most are wealthy. Why not be an example and work pro bono? Still having their money for staff, travel, etc. John Kennedy gave his salary to charity, they could give theirs back to the people, the people who need it most.
I long for the day when we establish a meritocracy in our politicians.
One issue I take exception to is the necessity of politicians in daily life. Of course they want we voters to assume they are indispensable to making our lives better, but the opposite is true. They interfere with our lives more than they benefit.
Contrary to what is promoted, society can get along fine without them being so omnipresent. If Congress passed a five year budget, had no external emergencies they would be statutorily required to address, and adjourned themselves for four years American society would actually be able to function and make do without them.
Anecdotally, an example can be found in the county water department. They deliver clean water to my house. I pay the bill for this service, and if something goes wrong I give them a call and they repair it. I have yet to experience a water department wanting to stifle civil rights, declare war on the neighboring county, or demand money from me for pet projects that have nothing to do with the water utility. I don’t have to concern myself that the director of the water department is going to send someone into my house to demand to know what I am doing with my water, they don’t care if I shower or bathe, they don’t search my house looking for water violations, they don’t threaten to shut off my water if I express my first amendment rights. They don’t care who I want to marry and they don’t care if my children go to a charter school or a parochial one. I pay my bill, they give me water. That’s all I need and want from them.
Darren – golly – you make me want to go out and be a meretricious Politician when I grow up. 🙂
I like meritocracy. But wouldn’t that put unions out of business? OK with me, but impossible to happen. Seeing some people elected to the House tells me there are places that with a little more intelligence! a Republican could get elected. I’m for a long-time era of conservatism. The liberals controlled everything for 60+ years. The country needs some logic and common sense.
I listened to an interview with Jeb and found him to be knowledgeable about all topics discussed. The people of Florida elected him twice, and support his running. He has many good ideas about education, but won’t get rid of common core. He’s a gentle man, much like his father. Running as the third Bush is a tough road. Married to a Mexican woman, and wait until you met his son, George P. Serving their country and it’s people seems woven in their lives. Bush 41’s father was a Senator. I think Hillary would have a tough time with him. He’s been raised a gentleman and she’s not been around many of those. I haven’t heard his views on foreign policy. I believe he is an honest man, like his father. I’m looking forward to learning more about Jeb.
You haven’t figured out yet that the laws don’t apply to any but the rich and well-connected? Yes, it stinks.
“The Isaías family is a major donor to Menendez even though they do not live in his state. ”
“This is of course not the first questionable association for Menendez who remains under investigation by the Justice Department for his advocacy for another out-of-state campaign donor.”
Out-of-district, even out-of-state, campaign donations are just peachy.
WHITMORE v. FEC
On December 9, 1994, the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska dismissed Whitmore and Quinlan v. FEC, in which the plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of permitting federal candidates for the Alaska at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives to accept contributions from individuals and PACs residing outside of Alaska.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, on October 26, 1995, affirmed the district court’s dismissal.
District Court Decision
Joni Whitmore was the Green Party’s 1994 candidate for U.S. House Representative from Alaska. She refused out-of-state contributions throughout her campaign. James Quinlan is a resident of Alaska. Plaintiffs argued that the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) permitted out-of-state contributions, which violated their constitutional rights, hurt Ms. Whitmore’s candidacy and diluted Mr. Quinlan’s vote.
The court found that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring this case because they did not demonstrate injury-in-fact or causation, or that the relief they sought would redress the alleged injury.
An injury-in-fact must affect a plaintiff in a personal and individual way. The court deemed Ms. Whitmore’s alleged injury to be hypothetical and speculative. The court found no evidence to suggest that Ms. Whitmore would have fared better in the election if out-of-state contributions had been prohibited. As to the allegation that the Act injures Mr. Quinlan by depriving him of his right to equal protection and to be governed by a republican form of government, the court said there was no injury-in-fact because all candidates were free to solicit and receive contributions.
To show causation, a plaintiff’s injury must be traceable to the challenged action of the defendant. The court stated that Ms. Whitmore failed to present any facts indicating that the government had caused non-Alaskans to contribute to her opponents, prevented her from soliciting such contributions or prevented non-Alaskans from contributing to her. The Act, the court found, does not treat the plaintiffs any differently than other American citizens.
Lastly, the court stated that there was no evidence to show that prohibiting her opponents from accepting out-of-state contributions would redress Ms. Whitmore’s injury; the effect of out-of-state contributions on her campaign was wholly speculative.
The court said ” . . . to accomplish the result plaintiffs seek, the court would have to add to [the Act] a prohibition [on] nonresident contributions, which it is not permitted to do. . . . [R]egulation of federal elections is more appropriately committed to the legislature, not to the judiciary.”
Appeals Court Decision
The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s dismissal of this case on grounds that plaintiffs lacked standing under Article III of the constitution to file this suit and that, even if they had standing, their claims were frivolous.
Source: FEC Record — February 1995, p. 7; and March 1996, p. 6.
Whitmore v. FEC, No. A94-289 CIV (JWS) (D.C. Alaska Sept. 16, 1994) (denying preliminary injunction); (D.C. Alaska Dec. 8, 1994) (opinion); No. 94-36236 (9th Cir. Oct. 26, 1995 ).
SteveH, I would LOVE some choices. If it’s a bit chaotic, very good! DC has become the wealthiest city in the US. They produce NOTHING but laws and regulations, billing us folks who pay taxes. I would love a few years where no new laws, regulations, taxes, etc. are imposed upon us who work. It’s MUCH to comfortable. I want to see the duopoly sweat like a whore in church. Answer your question??
Oh by the way. Professor Turley, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Keep up the good work.
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