Saturday, January 12, 2019

Lobbyists Paying To See Gil Cisneros And Tony Cárdenas In Swim Suits While The Shutdown Continues


The DCCC’s favorite Republican millionaire is hitting the beach with other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in Puerto Rico this weekend. Just imagine what corporate PACs are paying to see Cisneros in a swim suit. Well, we actually know how much-- $5,000 for a corporate PAC and $2,500 for an individual.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus BOLD PAC-- which raised $11 million this past cycle-- is hosting its annual winter retreat this weekend at a fancy resort on the beaches of Puerto Rico. BOLD PAC, which takes corporate money and spends to elect Republicans-disguised-as-Democrats like Henry Cuellar is hosting this exclusive event as an opportunity for special interests to wine and dine with members. Here's the invite:

Aside from the fact that they are essentially selling access in exchange for a fancy vacation, the optics of this are terrible. The federal government remains shut down and federal workers are still without a paycheck-- many are struggling to get by as is and are facing potentially weeks more without a paycheck. All the while, the shutdown concerns an issue where the Hispanic Caucus should have the loudest voice-- immigration and the wall. This leaves other Democrats to stand up for immigrant rights and a humane policy along the border while power-players like Lujan, Cárdenas, Cuellar, Cisneros and their lobbyist friends sip cocktails.

Now, you can argue that they are taking important meetings while in San Juan, which would be relevant since Trump’s national emergency declaration would take money from the Puerto Rican recovery effort. But this seems suspect since past retreats have been a giant party at Vegas nightclubs. According to the FEC in 2017, BOLD PAC spent $7,000 at the Omni Nightclub in Las Vegas in one night and roughly $15,000 in catering at Caesar’s Palace. In 2018-- an election year-- they doubled down on Vegas and spent over $20,000 on food at Caesar’s Palace and took in a show at the Belagio for over $3,000.

Clearly, these retreats are a place where serious business gets done.

I asked a former official in the Democratic Party close to the Hispanic Caucus for their take and it’s the same head scratching disgust. "Right now, there needs to be a serious conversation on the border and who we are as a country when it comes to immigration. Trump is forcing this discussion while shutting out federal workers. Strong Latino voices would be a big boost to telling the story of immigration. Unfortunately, it looks like the lure of plush San Juan beaches and a corporate-funded cocktail are the priority. I hope those checks are worth it."

Even without the Hispanic Caucus speaking on humane immigration policy-- which all Democrats should be regardless of race-- in what world is this a good look for the party. Most of these members probably have furloughed workers in their district. Wouldn't it make more sense to highlight the impact of the shutdown locally instead of hitting the beach? I highly doubt those workers or the general public would appreciate the need for a winter retreat on an island resort while the government is closed. If the goal is to keep the majority, there needs to be better decisions and not a happens in Vegas mindset.

Hopefully new progressive Hispanic members like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will continue to get elected and change the direction of the Hispanic Caucus. Right now, there are far too many Blue Dogs and conservatives pulling the strings and leaving the caucus without a voice during a national crisis.

This past cycle Bold PAC took in $11,096,964. Their funding comes from Coca-Cola, KPMG, Visa Card, Toyota, Primerica, Goldman Sachs, Dell, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, Herbalife, Charter Communications, FedEx, Univision, iHeartMedia, AstraZenica, Humana, Amgen, Lockheed Martin, General Motors, AT&T, Intel, the National Beer Wholesalers Association, New York Life Insurance, Walgreens, Ernst and Young, Sprint, Walmart, Merck, PNC Financial Services, Pfizer, the American Bankers Association, the Mortgage Bankers Association, Honeywell... in other words, every corporate PAC that has business with the federal government.

Of that $11 million in bribes they were laundering, they gave 80 House candidates and 6 Senate candidates-- overwhelmingly conservatives-- $397,283 and put $497,83 into independent expenditures for Antonio Delgado, Jay Hulings, Mike Levin and Xochitl Small. Another $1,058,300 went to the Latino Victory Fund, $764,825 to Pelosi's House Majority PAC, $286,000 to VoteVets (presumably for Cisneros) and $279,300 to EMILY'S List. The bulk of their money went to consultants and administrative costs. Mothership Strategies alone got $2,141,769.

UPDATE: GOP Noticed Too, Of Course

The tone-deaf boondoggle-type trip was too obvious for Fox to resist, especially as the fight over corruption (HR1) ramps up in the House.
Around 109 lobbyists and corporate executives are named in a memo welcoming the guests, which include some from prominent Washington firms, R.J. Reynolds, Facebook, Comcast, Amazon, PhRMA, Microsoft, Intel, Verizon, and unions like the National Education Association.

A spokesman for the BOLD PAC-- part of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus-- would not tell the Examiner which members of Congress would be attending. But U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) was spotted on the beach Saturday, according to a FOX News producer.

...Julian Castro, former Housing and Urban Development secretary and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, will attend a summit on the island on Monday, according to the Examiner.

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At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least there is a compiled list of Hispanics who will change sides when it suits them to do so. Since they tend to be somewhat religious, maybe they are just waiting for Pence to make a move?


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