Puerto Rico Governor Tries to Distance Himself from His Brother

Alejandro Garcia Padilla, the governor of Puerto Rico, is claiming that he has nothing to do with a controversial charity, which has his brother Antonio Garcia Padilla as its only employee, according to Alana Goodman in the Washington Free Beacon.

The nonprofit is called Sociedad Economica De Amigos Del Pais. Its funding comes from corporations doing business with the Commonwealth government. According to its federal tax return, Antonio makes $70,000 per year for a forty-hour work week. The group is a resurrected version of a nonprofit founded as the Hispanic Education and Legal Fund (HELF) in 1996 by New York union boss Dennis Rivera and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.

Antonio’s forty-hour work week came as news to students at the University of Puerto Rico, where he purportedly serves a full time law school professor. From the Free Beacon:

The student council is calling on the administration to investigate whether Garcia Padilla violated law school faculty bylaws prohibiting full-time professors from working more than 12 hours per week for outside employers. They are also calling for an audit of other professors who hold outside positions.

“We are discussing this issue with the student council of the Law School,” said Guillermo Guasp Perez, president of the UPR student council. “They are going to have their dean certify if this professor Garcia Padilla is complying with these bylaws or not.”

The University of Puerto Rico students were reacting to a previous Alana Goodman report based on information provided by the National Legal and Policy Center.

Meanwhile, Isabel Vincent in the New York Post reports that the Puerto Rico government is directing millions to New York lawyers, consultants and publicists in hopes of getting a bailout from mainland taxpayers.

Most prominently, the Post reports that SKDKnickerbocker, a public relations firm connected to powerful Democratic politicians, was hired by Puerto Rico at a cost of up to $3.4 million. From the Post:

Influential lobbyist Jennifer Cunningham is the point person in six of the seven Knickerbocker contracts with Puerto Rico, records show. Cunningham, pal to Gov. Cuomo and former wife of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, is a former honcho with SEIU Local 1199, the giant health-care-workers union based in Manhattan.

Corrupt politicians in Puerto Rico and New York seemed joined at the hip in helping Puerto Rico to shed its obligations. SEIU Local 1199 was formerly headed by Dennis Rivera, who is lobbying Congress to allow the Commonwealth to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy, a privilege currently only available to states. In November, Governor Andrew Cuomo turned up in Puerto Rico and marched with demonstrators seeking a bailout for the Commonwealth’s Medicare system. From the Post:

“The fact that the Puerto Rican debt crisis resulted from years of over-spending, political cronyism and outright corruption goes a long way to explain why Puerto Rico’s political leaders have poured many millions of dollars into a small group of politically connected legal, lobbying and consulting firms,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a Virginia watchdog.

On November 22, 2015, the Post reported, based on documents provided by NLPC, that $1 million was routed from HELF to another foundation headed by Richardson. A whistleblower lawsuit, which has been joined by the State of New Mexico, alleges that the payment was a “kickback” to Richardson. The lawsuit seeks to recover funds for the state employee pension system.

HELF went dormant for several years and then reappeared in Puerto Rico with the same tax identification number, but a different name and mission. The new mission is supposedly to promote economic development in Puerto Rico. A change in mission would require the approval of the Internal Revenue Service, a process that would take several months at a minimum and would not be automatic. It is unclear whether the group sought, or received, IRS approval.

The fact that Sociedad Economica De Amigos Del Pais was using HELF’s 501(c)(3) designation was uncovered by Tom Anderson, the director of NLPC’s Government Integrity Project.


Labor Boss Attacks Free Beacon After Story on Mysterious Puerto Rican Charity (Washington Free Beacon)

Watchdog Group Questions Ties of Top Puerto Rico Advisor (Inside Sources)

Puerto Rico Bond Expert Ravitch Not So Independent

Questionable Charity in Puerto Rico Has One Employee— the Governor’s Brother

Puerto Rican Bond Default Raises Likelihood of U.S. Bailout

Sen. Menendez Took Married Girlfriend on Junket to Puerto Rico; Stayed at Taxpayer-Supported Governor's House 

Will Puerto Rican Bonds Trigger a Mainland Bailout?