PACs for and against Cuba embargo bring in big money
In its first seven months, the New Cuba PAC rakes in nearly $350,000
Big names are on its contributor roster
Anti-Castro U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC says it gave $350,000 to political
campaigns in 2015
BY MIMI WHITEFIELD
The New Cuba PAC, a political action committee that supports federal
candidates who favor lifting the trade embargo against Cuba, raised
nearly $350,000 in the seven months since its founding last May.
"Our historic fund-raising haul firmly establishes the New Cuba PAC as a
force to be reckoned with in Washington. It shows unprecedented support
from Americans in South Florida and across our country who want our
representatives to modernize our outdated policies toward Cuba and lift
the embargo once and for all," said Ric Herrero, co-director of the PAC.
Checks continued to come in during the first week of January and now the
Washington-based PAC has raised considerably more than $350,000, said
James Williams, co-director of the non-partisan, political-action committee.
"As we enter 2016, we will do all that we can to support candidates and
elected officials working towards ending the embargo, which will
ultimately benefit both U.S. citizens and the Cuban people," Williams said.
Among the contributors to the PAC, he said, are: healthcare magnate Mike
Fernandez, top donor to Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush; Carlos
Gutierrez, former secretary of commerce in the George W. Bush
administration; the Marriott PAC; Pat Riley, president of the Miami
Heat; and Miami area businessmen Manny Medina, Joe Arriola, and Paul Cejas.
Fernandez, Gutierrez, Public Health Trust Chairman Arriola, and tech
entrepreneur Medina were among the 10 signatories of an open letter —
published in December in the Miami Herald — that called the embargo
ineffective and urged engagement with Cubans on the island.
"We have arrived at the point in our lives where we have no interest in
personal advancement, but only in what would be good for 'nuestra
gente,' " [our people], they said in the letter, which followed a trip
to Cuba by the group. They lauded entrepreneurs they met on the island
and said "we saw progress beyond what we could have imagined."
Williams said the success of the PAC's fund-raising efforts is "further
proof that Americans from across the political and economic spectrum are
continuing to unite in their support for normalizing U.S.-Cuba relations."
The Hialeah-based U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC — whose mission is to promote
a transition to a multi-party democracy, the rule of law, and a
free-market system in Cuba — also has been busy raising funds. In its
mid-year 2015 filing with the Federal Election Commission, it reported
contributions of $214,322.40.
The report for the full year hasn't been filed yet, but Mauricio
Claver-Carone, a co-founder of the PAC, said that last year it raised
more than $350,000 and has raised $4.3 million since its inception in
2004. The new report will show that "contributions came from hundreds of
Cuban Americans, as opposed to just a handful of wealthy donors and
corporate PACs," he said.
The PAC made more than $350,000 in political contributions last year and
still has more than $200,000 in cash on hand, said Claver-Carone.
The anti-Castro PAC says its mission will continue until all Cuban
political prisoners are freed, human and civil rights are respected in
Cuba, and there is a democratic transition on the island.
Source: PACs for and against Cuba embargo bring in big money | Miami