In today’s New York Times, Frances Robles provides new details of the extensive political giving of two wealthy Ecuadoran brothers, Roberto and William Isaias, who are wanted in their home country for allegedly looting a bank. From the Times:
“There is a certain mercenary aura on the Hill when it comes to overlap of fund-raising from wealthy individuals with problems,” said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a research group. “The key elements are all there: They are wealthy and have problems that are solved by the discretionary judgment of someone in the administration. They have tons of money and are willing to write checks all over the place.”
In January, a New York TV station first reported that the criminal investigation of Senator Robert Menendez had been widened to include Menendez relationship with the brothers, who are seeking to stay in the United States in the face of extradition requests by Ecuador.
The Menendez probe was reportedly initiated after media reports of Menendez relationship with another donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen, his largest. Melgen contributed $700,000 to a super PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that spent the bulk of the funds for Menendez’ re-election in 2012. Based on information provided by NLPC, the New York Times reported on February 1, 2013 that Menendez went to bat for a port security deal in the Dominican Republic that would have resulted in a “highly lucrative windfall” for Melgen.