Photo: Latinos for Obama
President Barack Obama’s re-election team will be returning more than $200,000 in donations collected by brothers of a Mexican casino owner seeking a pardon after fleeing the United States from drug and fraud charges.
Chicago brothers of Mexican casino owner, Juan José Rojas Cardona, also known as Pepé, began raising money for President Obama’s re-election campaign last fall. The brothers, Carlos Cardona and Alberto Rojas Cardona, raised more than $200,000, although they were collecting U.S. political campaign donations for the first time. This amount of fundraising places them in an upper level of fund-raisers known as ‘bundlers’.
Their brother, Juan José Rojas Cardona, or Pepé, was born in Mexico yet grew up in Iowa. After attending the University of Iowa, and getting arrested on both drug and fraud charges, Pepé fled the United States for Mexico in 1994. He has since been linked to crimes such as a possible assassination of a business rival and the illegal donations to Mexican officials.
When approached by The New York Times early on Monday, the Obama campaign claimed to be unaware of Pepé. Yet, later in the day, they made the decision to return the campaign donations collected by the Cardona brothers. “On the basis of the questions that have been raised, we will return the contributions from these individuals and from any other donor they brought to the campaign,” said Obama re-election campaign spokesperson Ben LaBolt late Monday.
It is believed that Carlos Cardona sought a pardon for his brother last year from then Iowa Governor, Chet Culver, a Democrat, but none was granted. Although the intentions of the brothers are unknown, the president of the United States does not hold the authority to grant pardons for state crimes.