Sunday, September 26, 2010

How Cuban American Hard-Liners Influence Congress With Campaign Contributions

Public Campaign Action Fund

Download the full report

Since the 2004 election cycle, a network of Cuban-American donors and political action committees (PACs) has donated in excess of $10 million to more than 300 federal candidates in order to thwart any changes in the U.S. embargo of Cuba. Recipients are Democrats and Republicans, House and Senate members, rank-and-file members and party leaders. Contributions are sometimes coordinated and mutually reinforcing. These donations were often targeted to members of Congress who changed their positions on U.S.-Cuba policy to align them with opponents of change, sometimes within days or a few weeks of making the switch.

With support growing for reforms of U.S. policy toward Cuba, including lifting the ban on travel by all Americans to the island, and with congressional hearings on travel to Cuba about to take place before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the question is whether reasoned policy or old-style politics driven by the corrosive influence of campaign donations will prevail.

In the most extensive analysis of hard-line Cuban-American campaign donations to date, Public Campaign has made visible the following facts and findings. To preserve the U.S. embargo of Cuba, the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC and the network of hard-line Cuban American donors:

* Made donations of $10,777,692 since the 2004 election cycle

* Gave to at least 337 federal candidates through the PAC, 53% of whom received reinforcing individual donations from hard-line Cuban-American donors

* Vastly increased Cuban-Americans’ donations to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) even as the DSCC has underperformed in overall fundraising compared to a similar point in the 2007-2008 election cycle

* Provided significant resources to their champions (with contributions aggregating as high as $366,964), who include fifteen top recipients. Some of these champions recycle contributions to, or raise money for, other members, thereby building their power base to help stop Cuba policy changes

* Targeted donations to recipients whose voting record shows a shift in their position on Cuba policy, including seven who took money and switched their positions on dates that were in close proximity to one another

* Provided, through the PAC and the network of donors, more than $850,000 to 53 members of Congress who recently publicized their opposition to changes in the policy just weeks before a key committee hearing on travel to Cuba

This report begins with a summary of the scope of this hard-line network, sections on both the momentum towards changing Cuba policy and the response from the hard-line community to counter that momentum, and a detailed analysis of the different ways in which they use campaign contributions to press for their views. The report closes with recommendations for policies to address the overarching problem of money in politics.

*Upon further review of Rep. Jim Marshall's (D-Ga.) voting record, he should not have been included in the earlier version of this report. The report has been updated to reflect this change.

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JG: Further proof that the U.S. has the best politicians money can buy. We have a money democracy. You give me cash, I'll vote the way you recommend. It is a rigged system. Money is king.

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