http://havanajournal.com/politics/entry/rep-sam-graves-becomes-pro-embargo-after-taking-us-cuba-pac-money/

HavanaJournal.com: Cuba Politics

Rep Sam Graves becomes pro-Embargo after taking US Cuba PAC money

Posted November 16, 2009 by publisher in Cuba Politics.
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By DAVID GOLDSTEIN and LESLEY CLARK | McClatchy Washington Bureau

Republican Congressman Sam Graves, a farmer from a rural northwest Missouri congressional district, was once a consistent supporter of easing trade and travel restrictions on Cuba.

But a campaign watchdog group said he began accepting campaign contributions from an anti-Castro, pro-trade embargo political action group and eventually reversed field on Cuba.

Public Campaign, a nonpartisan, nonprofit reform group that backs public financing of campaigns, said in a report released today that Graves cast seven votes between 2003 and 2005 to ease the trade embargo and other sanctions on Cuba.

Then on three subsequent Cuban trade votes, he withdrew his backing and opposed lifting the sanctions, according to the report.

Since 2004, the five-term lawmaker from Tarkio and a member of the House Agriculture Committee, has received $8,000 from the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee, campaign records show.

Graves spokesman Jason Klindt said two Cuban-American lawmakers from Florida — Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — “who have experience dealing with the Castro regime,” persuaded Graves to rethink his views.

“He supports making it easier for Missouri farmers to sell their products in Cuba, but he does not support lifting the full embargo,” Klindt said.

Graves was one of 18 House members receiving money from the U.S.-Cuba PAC who had voted in many cases to ease sanctions but then subsequently switched their views, according to the report. The amounts ranged from $3,000 to $22,050.

The report found that supporters of the U.S. embargo against Cuba have contributed nearly $11 million to members of Congress since 2004 in a largely successful effort to block moves to weaken sanctions.

“The pressure they get to raise money plays heavier in their decisions than it ought to,” said David Donnelly, national director for Public Campaign. “We think these are good people caught in a bad system. If members of Congress have to spend too much time raising money, they have to listen to people who give money.”

The report comes as embargo defenders resist efforts to repeal a decades-old ban against U.S. travel to Cuba. Proponents of greater engagement with Cuba contend they have the votes. A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Thursday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Agricultural, business and other groups have for years been pushing to lift the trade, travel and humanitarian restrictions on Cuba, a vestige of the Cold War and a politically powerful symbol to some.

Cuban-American donors and members of Congress who oppose the Castro regime have lobbied hard to maintain them.

(source: pbs.org)

PAC director Mauricio Claver-Carone defended the contributions as an expression of free speech for Cuban-Americans who think easing sanctions against Cuba would only benefit the Castro regime.

“I will not apologize for the Cuban-American community practicing its constitutional, democratic right to support candidates who believe in freedom and democracy for the Cuban people over business and tourism interests,” he said.

The Missouri Farm Bureau strongly supports relaxing the trade embargo. Its policy states: “We are opposed to any restrictions on agricultural exports to Cuba.”

Garrett Hawkins, a farm bureau lobbyist, said he could not comment about Graves but said, “The members from the Missouri congressional delegation that represents the rural areas and agricultural areas, we’ve had a great working relationship with them on trade issues. We’ve had strong support.”

Member Comments

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On November 16, 2009, BERNIE wrote:

In my book, I would call this out & out a pure case of bribery???

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On November 16, 2009, publisher wrote:

Here’s more information on Mauricio Claver-Carone:

He is editor of CapitolHillCubans.com, a pro-Embargo activist blog. The domain was registered in April of 2009 but features content dated into 2008. Oddly enough, the ownership has whois privacy protection but is owned by Sayfie Media. You can watch him on this video from the show Great Decisions on US Cuba policy.

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From poder360.com:

Co-Founder and Director, U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC. Age: 32

A Florida native raised in Madrid, Mauricio J. Claver-Carone is an attorney, a prominent advocate of U.S. policy against the current Cuban government, one of eight executive committee members of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee (PAC), and the Executive Director of the Cuba Democracy Public Advocacy Corp.

Outspoken in print and on television, he has watched as the Cuban-American community has unified to create the largest foreign-policy political action committee in the country—and the largest, single Hispanic political contributor in U.S. history. His advocacy stems both from “the respect of fundamental human rights for the Cuban people,” and the words of 19th century abolitionist leader, William Lloyd Garrison: “With reasonable men, I will reason; with humane men I will plead; but to tyrants I will give no quarter, nor waste arguments where they will certainly be lost.”

His own keys to success continue to be discretion and humility, and his greatest accomplishment “is the fact that my deepest personal beliefs in freedom and democracy are at the core of my professional advocacy.”

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From AP news:

Supporters of tough U.S. sanctions against the Cuban government have given more than $10 million to congressional campaigns over the last seven years, according to a study released late Sunday night by a group supporting campaign finance reform.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Public Campaign said the study shows how large sums of money from a small group can influence lawmakers. Public Campaign cites a number of times in which lawmakers changed their position on Cuba-related issues within months of receiving funds from a political action committee that supports the U.S. embargo of the communist island.

Those who back U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC say they are being unfairly targeted for their passionate views toward their homeland. They note many other groups channel money to politicians who support their views.

“Perhaps it’s the age-old story of money and politics, but 18 members switched their votes on the subject, some in very close proximity to when they got donations,” said Public Campaign’s David Donnelly.

“When an issue is not in the front view like health care, our campaign finance system sets up a situation in which the members are more interested in the money than deciding a rational, reasoned approach to politics, regardless of what the outcome,” he added.

Mauricio Claver-Carone, the Washington-based director to the PAC, says the group is simply exercising its constitutional right to political participation.

Read the rest of the story here

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Although Mr. Claver-Carone doesn’t mind pressuring others and questioning their motivations, he does not like to be challenged and questions the motivation of Public Campaign’s funding of the new study.

Also, why is his name not listed at USCubaPAC.com? If he is the Director of the PAC, he should be proud of his position yet there are no names mentioned at the website.

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As posted above in the article, Mr. Claver-Carone defends his actions as an expression of free speech and says that he will not apologize for practicing his constitutional and democratic rights.

I certainly support these rights and for the same reasons, I have registered the domain names listed below and have pointed them to this page so anyone typing in his name can read more about Mr. Claver-Carone.

I registered these domains in order to exercise my constitutional rights as a political protest against the actions of Mr. Claver-Carone. Since he is clearly a public political figure now, I have every right to use his name as a gesture of protest against his actions, words and beliefs and therefore I have the right to own and use his name in these domain names.

Claver-Carone.com
ClaverCarone.com
MauricioCarone.com
MauricioClaver-Carone.com
MauricioClaver.com
MauricioClaverCarone.com

I also own the following domains for the same reasons:

LincolnDiazBalart.com
LincolnDiaz-Balart.com
MarioDiaz-Balart.com
ileanaRosLehtinen.com
ileanaRos-Lehtinen.com

I think these people are dangerous to American freedoms since they choose to restrict my rights as an American citizen for their own selfish causes and to corrupt (and perhaps intimidate) Congressmen like Mr. Graves.

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On November 16, 2009, publisher wrote:

Just a couple more questions for Mr. Claver-Carone…

Why don’t you have your contact information anywhere?

Just a form at USCubaPAC.com and nothing at CapitolHillCubans.com and you hide ownership of the domains with privacy protection.

Aren’t you trying to gain more supporters from the general population? I would think you would like to hear feedback from all your supporters.

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On November 16, 2009, publisher wrote:

...and there’s more.

Apparently Mr. Claver-Carone’s PAC money is making an impact.

This article about more politicians changing their positions on Cuba appear to be the sole result of taking Mr. Claver-Carone’s money.

Do you think these politicians really studied the issue and had a legitimate change of heart or was there a wink and a nod and check made out to their campaign fund?

It would appear that Mr. Claver-Carone is dangerous since he doesn’t mind buying votes while hiding in the shadows of Washington DC.

All we know is that he is a lawyer who operates the CapitolHillCubans.com site and was recently with the Treasury Department. Also, he has served on the full-time faculty of The Catholic University of America’s School of Law and adjunct faculty of The George Washington University’s National Law Center.

Do politicians know him because he writes checks or because he is actually influential and knowledgeable about US Cuba relations?

Also, one might wonder where his PAC money is coming from since NO NAMES are listed ANYWHERE on USCubaPAC.com.

However, note that Mr. Claver-Carone used to work for Cuba Democracy Advocates, Inc full time but was cleared of any inappropriate actions by the FEC:

MUR 5830
 
RESPONDENTS:

a.)  Leopoldo Fernandez-Pujals

b.)  Mauricio Claver-Carone

c.)  Gus Machado

d.)  Cuba Democracy Advocates, Inc. (CDA)

e.)  U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee (PAC) and Gus Machado in his official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:
 
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

SUBJECT:

a,b.)  Foreign national prohibition; contributions in the name of another

c.) Violations of the Act

d.) Foreign national prohibition

e.) Solicitation of funds from the general public; making a false statement to the Commission; foreign national prohibition; contributions in the name of another

DISPOSITION
 
a-e.)  No reason to believe

According to the complaint, the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee (PAC), knowingly registered as a nonconnected committee with the Commission when it should have registered as the separate segregated fund (SSF) of Cuba Democracy Advocates, Inc. (CDA).  The complaint further alleged the majority of contributions raised by the PAC were impermissible because they were raised from sources outside the restricted class of Cuba Democracy Advocates, Inc (i.e., members of the organization).

The complaint also alleged Leopoldo Fernandez-Pujals, a foreign national and the founder of CDA, violated the Act by contributing indirectly to the PAC and participating both directly and indirectly in the decision-making process for the PAC.  According to the complaint, contributions totaling $3,759 made by MauricioClaver-Carone, the Executive Director of CDA, to the PAC were indirect contributions from Mr. Fernandez-Pujals.

The PAC asserted that it properly registered with the FEC as a nonconnected committee because it maintained organizational and financial independence from CDA itself, and denied the receipt of any foreign national contributions.  In separate statements, CDA, Mr. Fernandez-Pujals and Mr.Claver -Carone claimed CDA was never involved in political activity and Mr. Fernandez-Pujals never sought to direct or exert influence over any member of CDA’s board regarding election-related activity.

The Commission concluded there was no information indicating the PAC was financially supported by CDA and should have registered as an SSF.  Accordingly, the Commission found no reason to believe the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC violated the Act by soliciting funds from the general public.

The Commission further found no reason to believe Mr. Fernandez Pujals violated the Act by making an indirect contribution to the PAC or participating in the PAC’s decision making process.  The Commission also found no reason to believe CDA, the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC or Mauricio Claver-Carone violated the foreign national prohibition.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5830 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

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On November 16, 2009, publisher wrote:

Mr. Claver-Carone said the investigation was a “smear campaign” by CREW.

This 2007 Citizens for Ethics (CREW) article states that Mr. Claver-Carone is “executive director of Cuba Democracy Advocates”.

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On November 16, 2009, Alberto N. Jones wrote:

Just another women of the night.  Anything for a price!!

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On November 16, 2009, John McAuliff wrote:

For an analysis of how pro-embargo PAC money has been directed to members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, go to

http://thehavananote.com/2009/11/the_money_game_1.html

For data on the PAC money received by Democratic signers of the anti-travel letter to Speaker Pelosi, go to

http://uscubanormalization.blogspot.com/2009/11/democratic-representatives-sign-anti.html

The PAC’s anti-Obama pro-Jeb Bush position can be seen at
http://uscubanormalization.blogspot.com/2009/11/clipping-file-us-cuba-democracy-pac-and.html

The general impression is that the money for the PAC is largely from conservative Republicans in the Miami area.  However as far as I know, there has not been a serious analysis of the donor list and what their motives may be.  Public information about all donors can be found at
http://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/pacgave2.php?cycle=2008&cmte=C00387720

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On November 17, 2009, paul wrote:

Lifting the credit blockade and giving the Castro’s credit access is unethical.

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On November 17, 2009, publisher wrote:

John, GREAT links. Thanks for posting.

This from AP:

1. U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., a staunchly pro-embargo Cuban-American, called the report a “low blow” and a “lot of baloney” from those who oppose the sanctions.

My comment: Mr. Diaz-Balart is an idiot as usual. How is a factual report that exposes PAC money and its effects a “low blow” and a “lot of baloney”? So CREW is opposed to Cuba sanctions?

2. But at least 18 lawmakers with few Cuban constituents appeared to change their votes around the time they began receiving donations. Among them, U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-NC, consistently voted to ease relations with Cuba until 2004. Since then, he’s received $14,500 from the PAC and its network, according to the report. U.S. Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-CA, who switched his votes the same year, has taken nearly $10,000 from the PAC and its supporters since then. U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., switched his votes in 2005 and has since received $3,000 from the PAC.

My comment: I’ll bet John Shimkus feels like a dummy changing his votes for only $3k when McIntyre got $14,500.

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On November 17, 2009, publisher wrote:

...and more

“But earlier this month 53 Democrats in the US House of Representatives, or about one-fifth of the party’s caucus, signed a letter supporting current US policy toward Cuba, including keeping the embargo in place.

Public Campaign, scouring public records and campaign finance data, found that 51 of those lawmakers had received contributions from US-Cuba Democracy PAC.”

AND

“It said the biggest recipient is Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican who was born in Havana. He has received $366,964 since 2004, the report said.”

AND

“Mauricio Claver-Carone, a spokesman for US-Cuba Democracy PAC, told Reuters the group was not ashamed of trying to shape public policy through contributions to political candidates.”

Spokesman? Try Executive Director. Did he tell the reporter he was just a Spokesman or did she make a mistake?

FROM

http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/article.php?news_id=19915

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On November 17, 2009, pipefitter wrote:

Just democracy at work.

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On December 03, 2012, publisher wrote:

Then of course there is the nerve of Mauricio Claver Carone who’s anti-American freedom project called the US Cuba Democracy Pac… or should I say pact?

Like his anti-American freedom friends Ros-Lentinen and Diaz-Balart, Menendez etc, he is determined to restricted the freedoms of all Americans while lining his own pockets with money from Washington.

Havana Journal Inc., a Massachusetts corporation that supports the freedom of Americans to travel to and trade with Cuba, is exercising its rights to inform the public about Mr. Claver-Carone’s activities in a number of ways:

First having this article at HavanaJournal.com is educational to those who do not know him and his organization.

Second, we own domain names similar to his US Cuba Democracy Pac website domain name, USCubaPac.com. We own USCubaPac.org, CubaPac.com and CubaPac.org and forward those domain names to this page here at the Havana Journal.

If more Americans know how Mr. Claver-Carone’s money buys anti-American votes, maybe he would not be so successful with his extreme right wing agenda.

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On March 11, 2013, publisher wrote:

http://havanajournal.com/politics/entry/us-cuba-pac-pro-embargo-donors-list-and-house-and-senate-recipient-list/

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On May 06, 2013, publisher wrote:

Mauricio Claver Carone is a coward.

He is a bomb thrower who hides from all criticism.

He does not allow comments to his blog so he can lie about people.

This article http://www.capitolhillcubans.com/2011/06/disservice-to-miami-herald-readers.html says that I have “sex sites” and other lies so there is no way for me to confront this right wing, anti-American extremist other than to own his name MauricioClaverCarone.com and to expose his lies at the very site he attacks, sexincuba.com so read all about it here http://sexincuba.com/About-this-sex-in-Cuba-website.html

Visit without fear, the site is not even R rated.