Wednesday, 03 March 2010 14:22
By Alvaro F. Fernandez
Why would an egocentric politician like Lincoln Diaz-Balart give up a potentially powerful seat in the U.S. Congress? He says he will dedicate time to an organization his father created half a century ago known as the White Rose. He also plans to return to the practice of law -- something he has not done in a quarter century.
When Diaz-Balart announced his retirement from Congress on February 11, I thought the reason he gave the media was weak, especially coming from an overly ambitious man who appears healthy and is only 55. Am I the only person who found it very strange that Diaz-Balart had just endured the toughest electoral battle of his life, which he won handily, and then had decided before the end of the term to call it quits? Reporters here in Miami blew off digging for possible reasons, which is what they’re supposed to do.
I don’t write this as someone who has it in for Diaz-Balart, which I do. I write this because I insist that his past record and certain articles which have steadily appeared in the Puerto Rican media since 2008 warrant, at least, a little sniffing from an investigative reporter.
Instead, to date Miami reporters and columnists have heaped praise on Diaz-Balart. Others recorded his retirement announcement, and then simply dropped the subject. I found this treatment baffling. Lincoln’s only real claim of accomplishment (or non-accomplishment), in an almost 30 year career at the state and federal levels, may turn out to be his continuous (and contrived), even manic, losing battle against the Cuban government.
In 2008, I wrote that, in my opinion, Lincoln Diaz-Balart is dirty. I recounted a true story where he wanted $100,000 in good faith money from a real estate client of mine. Understandably, I’ll never be able to prove that what he proposed was on its way to becoming illegal. I just wish you had been there and seen my clients’ faces after their little conversation with Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart. If you had, you’d understand.
Recently I’ve read reports from a Puerto Rican newspaper, Primera Hora, written by a reporter, Rosita Marrero, who seems to indicate that the FBI may have information linking Lincoln Diaz-Balart and retired U.S. Senator Mel Martinez to illegal donations from Jorge De Castro Font, a Puerto Rican politician convicted of corruption. Currently De Castro Font is under indictment and cooperating as a federal witness. Of course, it might all be a coincidence or simply a story made-up by De Castro Font. But doesn’t it prickle your ears to find out why the first ever Cuban born member of the U.S. Senate, Mel Martinez, has left one of the most powerful political positions on earth, before even finishing his first term? And as for Diaz-Balart, I just can’t believe he would give up his seat -- for a white rose?
For years now Lincoln Diaz-Balart has been treated like a 14-year-old virgin by The Miami Herald. He’s been an untouchable. It took a local specialized publication, the Daily Business Journal, which reaches a minute segment of South Florida residents, to inform us that Diaz-Balart was found guilty of accepting illegal campaign contributions in 2000. The Miami Herald practically ignored the news. Then in 2008, the De Castro Font allegations came to the forefront. The Miami Herald ran a small story buried deep inside the Local Section of the newspaper. It was a one time deal never to be heard from again.
Two ambitious Cuban American politicians retire suddenly, at the height of their powers. Their reasons are flimsy, at best. Isn’t it time for a newspaper or media source with balls and a substantial budget to look into this matter? I believe it is the least the people of Miami deserve.
And I promise, if after a thorough investigation Lincoln Diaz-Balart turns out to be clean as a white rose kissed by a drop of morning dew… then I will repent by writing a scathing column admitting I was wrong. Something inside me tells me I won’t have to.