From the February 6 2012 New York Times:
Two American brothers of a Mexican casino magnate who fled drug and fraud charges in the United States and has been seeking a pardon enabling him to return have emerged as major fund-raisers and donors for
’s re-election campaign.
The casino owner, Juan Jose Rojas Cardona, known as Pepe, jumped bail in Iowa in 1994 and disappeared, and has since been linked to violence and corruption in Mexico. A State Department cable in 2009 said he was suspected of orchestrating the assassination of a business rival and making illegal campaign donations to Mexican officials.
When The New York Times asked the Obama campaign early Monday about the Cardonas, officials said they were unaware of the brother in Mexico. Later in the day, the campaign said it was refunding the money raised by the family, which totaled more than $200,000.
Last fall, Carlos Cardona and another brother in Chicago, Alberto Rojas Cardona, began raising money for the Obama campaign and the
. The Cardona brothers, who have no prior history of political giving, appeared seemingly out of nowhere in the world of Democratic fund-raising, Democratic activists said.
The money Alberto Cardona raised put him in the upper tiers of fund-raisers known as bundlers, according to a list released last month by the campaign. He and Carlos Cardona each gave the maximum $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee, and a lesser amount to a state victory fund. A sister, Leticia Rojas Cardona of Tennessee, donated $13,000 to the national committee, and another relative in Illinois gave $12,600, records show. There is no record of Pepe Cardona making a donation.
Pepe Cardona is one of the largest players in Mexico’s violent and tumultuous casino trade. In 2007, he survived an assassination attempt that was attributed to members of organized crime. The State Department cable, which was part of the cache made public by WikiLeaks, said he was suspected of illegally funneling $5 million into Mexican political campaigns in 2006.
The first campaign donations by Alberto and Carlos Cardona came shortly after news articles revealing Pepe Cardona’s criminal past appeared in the United States and Mexico last fall.
One of them, a long exposé in September by a Mexican magazine, Proceso, chronicled Pepe Cardona’s relatively swift rise to fortune and notoriety in Mexico after fleeing the American authorities. He obtained Mexican gambling licenses, and with help from investors in Louisiana, he started opening casinos in and around Monterrey, eventually becoming known as Mexico’s “casino czar.”
The article reported that Tango Media, an advertising company it said is owned by Alberto Cardona, worked on the campaigns of politicians favored by Pepe Cardona in communities where he owned casinos. It also said Carlos Cardona was involved in one of Pepe Cardona’s business deals.
Major Obama Donors Are Tied to Pepe Cardona, Mexican Fugitive – NYTimes.com.