Sunday, June 05, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz And The Fajnul Sugar Empire Are So Tied Together As To Be Indistinguishable


As of the March 31 FEC reporting deadline Debbie Wasserman Schultz had already spent $1,300,451 to retain her south Florida congressional seat. Ensconced in a deep blue district whose original very gerrymandered boundaries she drew herself when she was in the state Senate, she's never had an electoral challenge and doesn't know how to run a modern campaign. She's ruled out debating her progressive primary opponent and her version of campaigning is to smear her opponent and to amass a huge war-chest by selling access to special interests. As you can see, her biggest single donor for this cycle is the Fanjul Corp. The Fanjul family and their companies have been major contributors of hers in every single election since she first ran for Congress 16 years ago. They and their companies have funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into her political career and in return she has worked hard to keep the price of sugar artificially high.

And the Fanjuls don't just give her money directly. They have helped her build power within Congress by allowing her to direct their dark money to other right-of-center Democrats with low ethical standards. In 2007, Wasserman Schultz directed payments from a Fanjul-funded right-wing front group, the so euphemistically named neo-fascist group, US-Cuba Democracy PAC, to hand over $320,000 to Democrats of her choice that cycle. Fifty-two of the 66 Democrats who voted against Charlie Rangel’s amendment to open up trade with Cuba received one or more contributions from the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC that year. Wasserman Schultz's own leadership PAC gave nearly a quarter million dollars to Democrats running for re-election and election in the House that year. Between the US-Cuba Democracy PAC and her own sleazy Democrats Win Seats PAC, Wasserman Schultz was able to direct large sums to mostly conservative and corruption-friendly Democratic freshmen willing to sell her their votes, even from congressmen representing agricultural districts where this amendment would have had widespread support. At the time, her Republican ally, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), a fanatic anti-normalization extremist told the Miami Herald that Wasserman Schultz was "a tiger" in opposing Rangel's amendment, while Antonio Zamora of the U.S.-Cuba Legal Forum described her as a key party in building Democratic opposition. "I was about as active as you could be," the sleazy bribe-taking Wasserman Schultz admitted. Almost all the corrupt conservative Democrats, mostly Blue Dogs and New Dems, who took her tainted money were subsequently defeated for reelection.

Friday, Will Bredderman, writing for The Observer, examined how the Fanjuls, whose business empire includes among its subsidiaries Domino Sugar, Florida Crystals and ASR Group, which runs processing facilities across the United States, Canada and Latin America, are still spreading around money to corrupt members of both parties, even though the Fanjul empire, especially in the Dominican Republic, uses slave labor. "Over the years," Bredderman reported, "numerous cane cutters-- many of them imported from Jamaica-- on the company’s 155,000 acres in Florida have raised allegations of systemic wage theft and working conditions so poor one attorney referred to them as "modern-day slavery.'"
The U.S. Department of Labor has also repeatedly hit Florida Crystals and its offshoots for hazardous work environments in their sugar mills, including “exposing workers to lacerations and amputation injuries.”

The Fanjuls’ Central Romana subsidiary is the largest private property holder and employer in the Dominican Republic. The U.S. government has placed Dominican sugarcane, much of which comes from the Fanjul’s 200,000 acre plantation, on its list of products created through forced or child labor. A 2008 documentary, Sugar Babies, [see videos below] exposed the substandard living and labor conditions of Haitian emigres working the Fanjuls’ fields.

In 2013, the Department of Labor announced it had uncovered “evidence of apparent and potential violations” of labor standards outlined in the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement in the company’s farms, including lack of access to drinking water, 12-hour work days, seven-day work weeks, employment of minors and overtime abuses.

The Cuban-born Fanjul brothers are also renowned for its influence over an array of American political figures, ranging from ex-President Bill Clinton to Sunshine State Sen. Marco Rubio. But both liberals and conservatives have bemoaned the way federal subsidies and price floors have bolstered the family’s fabulous fortune.
Bredderman was focused on New York state Senator Adriano Espaillat, an especially corrupt and sleazy politician running for the now-open seat Rangel is retiring from. He's owned, lock, stock and barrel by the Fanjuls, the biggest single contributor to his current campaign. Last cycle, the Fanjuls spread around their money to the members of Congress who are widely known to sell their votes fro cash. The 10 sleazy characters who took the most money from the Fanjul Corp in the 2014 cycle are listed below, from most corrupt to not quite as corrupt but close enough to go to prison for a decade or two:
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Joe Garcia (New Dem-FL)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (New Dem-FL)
Lois Frankel (D-FL)
Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
Daniel Webster (R-FL)
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)

This morning we reached Alina Valdes, the progressive Democrat running for the south Florida seat occupied by Mario Diaz-Balart. She doesn't take tainted money from Big Sugar and she pointed out to us that "just like the Diaz-Balart dynasty of four brothers, the Fanjul brothers dynasty of four brothers have profited from the rampant workers' rights violations dating back to Cuba. This oppression has done nothing but make both prominent, wealthy families with plenty of political influence stretching across two countries. It is no wonder that neither family and their wealthy supporters wish to lift the Cuban embargo when they have profited so handsomely from its continuation. As the remaining Diaz-Balart in politics, Mario benefits from the Fanjul brothers' continued human rights violations on their plantations in the Dominican Republic and the US governmental subsidies to sugar bestowed on the industry.

"Sugar is present in a majority of products we consume whether we know it or want it. As Americans, we have developed an addiction for this sweetener and it is the cause of many health problems like obesity and diabetes. It is no wonder that the U.S. Cuba Democracy PAC would not even consider supporting me when they have Mario Diaz-Balart, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and her minions from both sides of the aisle in their pockets. It is time to see these career politicians for what they are... protectors and supporters of industries that contribute to their re-election campaigns so they can profit on the backs of the poor and needy. Greed is a strong motivation for many of these industries and sugar is no exception. To think that they could still do very well without taking advantage of desperate people here and abroad is a thought that does not occur to them. This is why it is time to show these special interest career politicians that we are sick and tired of their lack of representation for the people who elect them."

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At 5:21 PM, Blogger Joseph Kreps said...

Alina Valdes speaks truth to power and will work in Congress to call out the puppets on both sides of the aisle.


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