Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Who's Paying For Patrick Murphy's Sleazy, Conservative Political Career?


One of Chuck Schumer's and Steve Israel's front groups for tricking low-info grassroots Democrats into contributing to their Wall Street candidates disguised as Democrats calls itself EndCitizensUnited, a scam that funnels money into its own pockets and to right-of-center Democrats like Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL), Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), John Delaney (New Dem-MD), Pete Aguilar (New Dem-CA), Cheri Bustos (Blue Dog-IL), Ami Bera (New Dem-CA), Monica Vernon (R-IA), Sean Patrick Maloney (New Dem-NY), Brad Schneider (New Dem-IL), Brad Ashbrook (Blue Dog-NE), Pete Gallego (Blue Dog-TX), Baron Hill (Blue Dog-IN), Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA), and Ann Kirkpatrick (New Dem-AZ). These are garbage candidates who don't necessarily care about ending Citizens United-- or about anything to do with a progressive vision-- but who are careerists happy to help Wall Street take over the Democratic Party the same way the banksters have taken over the GOP.

Although these are the worst Democrats running for Congress, Murphy is the worst of the worst of these candidates, Wall Street's #1 priority for the Senate this cycle. By October 16, the banksters had already lavished his campaign with $787,750, more than any other non-incumbent from with party running for the Senate-- and more than many incumbents up for reelection. For example, bankster-backing senators up for reelection in November who have gotten less in legalized bribes than Patrick Murphy:
Richard Burr (R-NC)- $786,150
Mark Kirk (R-IL)- $713,460
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)- $685,240
John McCain (R-AZ)- $674,659
Ron Johnson (R-WI)- $660,565
Roy Blunt (R-MO)- $446,896
Mike Lee (R-UT)- $294,250
John Boozman (R-AR)- $278,450
Another deceptive right-wing PAC, "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class," is funneling the corrupt money Murphy falsely claims to oppose, into his election bid. An entity run by Schumer/Wasserman Schultz related sleaze-ball Nicholas Mastroianni, II, called the "230 East 63rd-6 Trust LLC" just gave them $50,000 for Murphy's campaign. Mastroianni, who gives immense sums to corrupt right-wing Democrats and has personally maxed out to Murphy, was profiled by Fortune a year and a half ago. He's a super-rich mini-Trumpf from Long Island with "a long history of legal problems, failed ventures, and unpaid debts-- which have continued even as his professional fortunes have turned sharply upward-- leaving a legacy of conflicts, judgments, and entanglements."

In recent years, the EB-5 visa program, which essentially allows wealthy foreigners to buy U.S. citizenship by investing $500,000 in a project that creates U.S. jobs, has exploded: The number of visas granted under the program has more than doubled since 2009. As that has happened, the program has taken on more and more glamorous, big-budget projects and the controversy surrounding it has increased.

It would be hard to find a figure who has risen faster in this burgeoning realm than Nicholas Mastroianni, II. In just four years, he has developed a lucrative role raising money for marquee projects such as Atlantic Yards, the giant Brooklyn development anchored by the Barclays Center, home of the NBA’s Nets. Forest City Ratner, which is developing Atlantic Yards, has also retained Mastroianni to raise EB-5 money for its renovation of the Nassau Coliseum, home of the NHL’s Islanders. Other Mastroianni clients include the developers of three large Manhattan projects: the Charles, a 31-story condominium tower on the Upper East Side where the penthouse reportedly sold for $38 million; Bryant Park, a 32-story midtown Manhattan building with a luxury hotel and condos developed by HFZ Capital Group; and 855 Avenue of the Americas, a 41-story mixed-use edifice being developed by the Durst Organization.

All told, Mastroianni’s website boasts of involvement with $5.5 billion in development projects over the years, funded with $1.4 billion in EB-5 money, resulting in “40,000 jobs created.” Those are massive sums given that the entire EB-5 system raised a total of about $1.8 billion last year. Forest City Ratner CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin calls Mastroianni the"'go-to' leader in the field of EB-5 funding."

...Mastroianni’s life and business career have also left a long legal trail. He grew up in Huntington, Long Island, where his father ran the Dover House, a popular restaurant owned by songwriter Burt Bacharach. After two years at Farmingdale State University of New York ending in 1983, Mastroianni moved to Rhode Island, where he went into the construction business at age 19.

Trouble started early. Between 1985 and 1993, court records show, Rhode Island police arrested Mastroianni four times for felony possession of a controlled substance. He pleaded no contest four times, and received a suspended sentence and probation each time. (“It happened,” Mastroianni says through a spokesperson. “It’s the past, life goes on and people move on.”)

Despite the setbacks, Mastroianni began opening businesses at a young age. Recognizing opportunity in a government program that paid for soundproofing homes and businesses near airports, in 1989 he founded a company called Interstate Design & Construction. By underbidding competitors, Mastroianni won dozens of government noise-abatement contracts from Louisiana to Wisconsin to Massachusetts.

But homeowners and subcontractors complained that Interstate did poor work and didn’t complete its jobs, according to newspaper reports dating back to 1996. In May 2000, records show, Mastroianni’s business went into receivership. Banks foreclosed on his office properties and two homes. In 2002, a surety bond company sued Mastroianni to recover costs for completing 28 of his soundproofing jobs and won a $1.1 million default judgment. (Mastroianni didn’t pay until December 2013.)

That wasn’t the end of the troubles. In July 2003, the U.S. Department of Labor sued Mastroianni, accusing him of diverting $401,361 in required employer pension-fund contributions, which were to be made “no less than quarterly.” The suit claimed Mastroianni illegally used the money for “various personal expenses” and to provide seed money for another business that he owned. After the government won a default judgment, the case was finally closed in April 2006 with a negotiated partial restitution; Mastroianni paid $75,000.

Mastroianni had personal financial woes, too. In September 2003, he filed for bankruptcy. In that proceeding, a court-appointed trustee accused him of “knowingly and fraudulently” lying about his assets, including hundreds of thousands in cash and retirement accounts. Ultimately, Mastroianni agreed, “without making any admissions,” that he would not be relieved of his debts in the bankruptcy.

...Even as legal disputes dragged on in Rhode Island courtrooms, Mastroianni relocated to Palm Beach County, Fla., where he began operating a new company, Allied Capital & Development. Allied specializes in projects “with the highest standards of quality and construction,” according to its promotional materials. Allied’s website says Mastroianni has been “recognized for his commitment to excellence in construction,” and notes that he has “hosted numerous charitable events with both prominent sports figures and political constituents.”

Yet in Florida, virtually every one of the dozen or so projects Allied launched over the past decade has faced delays, lawsuits or construction problems. Allied has completed few of them.

In July 2004, a building collapse at Allied’s townhouse development in Hobe Sound, named “Tranquility,” killed two workers and seriously injured several others. Allied, the developer and construction manager, faced no criminal charges or regulatory penalties, but it settled multiple lawsuits. Afterwards, Mastroianni defended the concrete contractor he’d hired to a local reporter, saying Allied had “checked them out” and had “no reason to believe they caused any problems here.” Local press later reported that the contractor had a history of serious safety violations and lacked workers’ compensation insurance. After investigating the matter, Florida regulators barred the concrete company from doing business in the state and fined it $2.4 million.

Today Mastroianni describes it as “a tragic accident on the part of the General Contractor” and insisted “my partners and I were not constructing the project and had no involvement in the day-to-day operations.” (OSHA’s final report of its investigation, dated Dec. 1, 2004, recounted the role of Mastroianni’s firm in key construction decisions.)

Meanwhile, a lender foreclosed on a nearby Allied townhouse development called Heron Cove after a Mastroianni-led business defaulted on a $12.3-million loan. And four other Mastroianni projects, in Cocoa and Palm Beach County, have not been built. Court records show the developments have faced lawsuits and foreclosure actions. Mastroianni recently settled with one lender who demanded an additional $6.3 million from him and a former partner, who signed personal guarantees.

In numerous instances, Mastroianni has failed even to respond when a lawsuit is filed. For example, in 2007, owners at Marbella Villas, 54 townhouses that Allied developed in North Palm Beach, sued a Mastroianni company, citing its refusal to fix “construction deficiencies and defects,” which homeowners and their lawyers say included a broken water main that allegedly created a sinkhole, unfinished landscaping, a malfunctioning front gate, and structural defects. Mastroianni didn’t contest the charges, and the homeowners won a $1.25 million default judgment. But they have yet to collect a penny. According to the lawyer for the homeowners, by the time the judgment had issued, Mastroianni abandoned the two corporate entities ordered to pay the judgment, allowing their registrations to lapse.
Mastroianni is an associate of Murphy's corrupt father, another crooked Florida builder and Mastroianni has been incredibly generous to Papa Murphy's ethics-free son, Patrick. And speaking of Thomas P. Murphy and Coastal Construction, he just dropped another $200,000 into Patrick's SuperPAC, the ironically named "Floridians For A Strong Middle Class." I say ironically-named because the PAC has scooped up $535,050 already (from just 23 criminal types seeking to put Murphy in the Senate) and its one candidate, Patrick, is a plague to ordinary working families and destructive of Florida's-- and America's-- middle class. No problem, of course, in terms of the Schumer/Israel shill PAC, EndCitizensUnited. Other criminally-oriented entities which have been sending bribes to Patrick via the SuperPAC include:
Apogee Investment Partners- $15,000
Stephen Bittel of Terranova Corporation, Schumer-related mega-donor- $25,000
CC1 Companies LLC (maxed out Wasserman Schultz donor)- $10,000
LRP Publications- $20,000
Anthony Mastroianni of Allied Capital and Development LLC- $5,000
Pride United Limited Partnership (Jeb Bush donors)- $20,000
Murphy was one of only 7 co-sponsors of GOP crook Aaron Schock's EB-5 Regional Center Extension Act of 2014, a bill that would ease restrictions on EB-5 regional centers like the one Mastroianni runs, directly benefitting Mastroianni's business, a highly illegal and unethical quid pro quo if I ever heard of one. If you'd like to help Grayson beat this sleazy pack of conservatives, you can do that here. And if you'd just like to keep Schumercrats like Murphy out of the Senate in general... there's this page.

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