Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Sewer Is Open In Florida And Endless Dark Money Is Flowing Out Of It, Corrupting Politics


Chuck Schumer has picked this garbage as the Florida Democratic Party's Senate nominee

It was almost 4 months ago that we started writing about the corrupt relationship between Patrick Murphy and Nicholas Mastroianni, II. At the time we wrote that a 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 is an associate of Murphy's corrupt father, a crooked Florida builder and Trump partner, and Mastroianni has been incredibly generous to Papa Murphy's ethics-free son, Patrick, who 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.

Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Times' DC bureau chief, Alex Leary, introduced Florida newspaper readers to Papa Murphy, who is destined to share a prison cell with the father of another crooked conservative New Dem, Ami Bera. He describes rich Republican Trump partner Thomas Murphy as the financial muscle behind Patrick Murphy's Senate bid. That's partially true; Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and the Wall Street bankster cabal are funneling even more money into Patrick's sleazy campaign than Thomas is. Leary wrote that Thomas "has given more than $1 million to super PACs supporting his son's campaigns and used donations to help create allies in Florida and Washington. His Coastal Construction Group has been the source for more than $180,000 given directly to the candidate's House and Senate campaigns." But that's just the beginning of the money trail.
A month before Patrick Murphy launched his first campaign, his father gave $10,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Last August, Tom Murphy contributed $33,400 to the committee, which a few months earlier endorsed his son.

The financial muscle gave the younger Murphy standing in the party and he's been able to build on that, drawing financial support from across Florida and the country. He is Democrats' best chance for taking the seat being vacated by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. No other Florida Senate candidate has raised more.

But the family advantage has provoked criticism from Democrats and Republicans who cast him as a rich kid and a hypocrite because he laments the influence of money in politics while benefitting from his father's largess.

"It's not unlawful. But it's just a way of playing the inside game of politics that I find distasteful and I think a lot of voters would find distasteful, too," said Pam Keith, a longshot Democratic candidate who volunteered for Murphy's first House campaign.

"This is about politics by the wealthy for the wealthy," she said.

Also rising are questions from his rivals about a potential overlap between Murphy's work in Congress and the family business. His father's company has partnered with developers who have an interest in visas given to foreign investors, a program Murphy has supported on Capitol Hill.

Currently, Coastal Construction is the general contractor for the $1.7 billion Miami Worldcenter project, which has actively sought Chinese investors.

Developers on that project and other businessmen with interests in the visa program, known as EB-5, have given to Murphy's campaign or the super PAC backing him.

The candidate, who holds between $1 million and $5 million in Coastal stock, said contributors get no special treatment. He said he gives the same commitment to any size donor: "I'm going to be the hardest-working congressman I can be and hopefully the best senator this state has ever seen."
Leary forgot to mention that in the history of the known universe, no politician has ever admitted that the bribes he was paid resulted in special treatment for the people bribing him. And bribery and quid pro quos come into questions Murphy has had to deal with again and again, since bribery and quid pro quos define his entire political career. Apparently Patrick a chip off the old block, even before he met the Senate's most corrupt Democrat, his sponsor, Chuck Schumer.
A Republican, Tom Murphy has long been politically active and has given money to Charlie Crist, Alex Sink, George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. (Patrick Murphy also donated to Romney and was a registered Republican until shortly before launching his first campaign.)

The builder has given at least $1.7 million since 2000, according to Federal Election Commission records.

That does not include money Murphy's wife or employees of Coastal Construction, which include Patrick Murphy's two older brothers, have given the candidate. All told, people affiliated with the firm have given Murphy at least $182,000 since 2011.

Current donors can give a maximum $5,400 covering the primary and general elections. But no such limits apply to super PACs.

In 2012, Tom Murphy sank $550,000 into two super PACs helping his son, one of which produced a controversial ad showing West, the Republican incumbent, in a boxing ring punching women. Now he has given $500,000 to Floridians for a Strong Middle Class, the committee set up to aid Murphy's Senate bid. More than half the money collected has come from Mr. Murphy.

...Murphy also played down questions about his support for the EB-5 visa program. His campaigns have received contributions from Florida developers who tap into the funding source. Foreigners who invest at least $500,000 are given green cards; many participants are from China. The program has enjoyed broad support but also come under scrutiny for fraud and a perception it sends the wrong message about the country's immigration system.

Nicholas A. Mastroianni II, a major EB-5 player based in Florida, has along with family members given Murphy about $25,000 and he has used companies to give at least $50,000 to the pro-Murphy super PAC. Another EB-5 developer and Murphy donor is Jeffrey Berkowitz, who is developing SkyRise Miami, a $430 million entertainment and observation tower.

Coastal Construction was a partner in that project but no longer is, according to Murphy campaign spokesman Joshua Karp. Company officials could not be reached. A registered lobbyist for SkyRise, Brian May, is part of the team working for the super PAC, records show.

Murphy said Mastroianni and Berkowitz are friends and he gives them regular updates on the campaign. But he said he did not recall specific conversations with them about legislation he sponsored in 2014 to make the EB-5 program permanent. He also did not recall meeting with Liu Yu, a New York based lawyer who specializes in the field. The two appeared in a 2014 article on a Chinese-language website.

Murphy said the EB-5 program has enjoyed bipartisan support and that it brings investment and creates jobs.

"I'm a member of Congress and I'm not actively involved in the family business ... so feel free to reach out to them and learn more about what they do," he told reporters on a conference call his campaign arranged last month to blast Grayson over alleged ethics issues. "But as far as I know, they have not done any projects to do with EB-5."

In February, Coastal, in a partnership with Tishman Construction, was named general contractor for the Miami Worldcenter, a $1.7 billion shopping, entertainment and housing project planned for 27 acres in the city's downtown. Financing will come in part from EB-5 investors.

Project developers and family have given Patrick Murphy more than $30,000 plus $25,000 to the super PAC.

Murphy's campaign said Friday it was unaware Coastal was involved in the project.
I'm outraged by the role Patrick Murphy and his parents-- yes, his mother is in on it too-- are playing in the corruption of the EB-5 visa program and, let me guarantee you, this isn't the last you'll be hearing about it here at DWT. Meanwhile, please consider helping Alan Grayson fight back this overflowing sewer of money propping up less-than-zero congressman Patrick Murphy.
Goal Thermometer

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