Puerto Rico Elections Comptroller publishes audit findings

(Screen shot of www.twitter.com/OCEPR)

Parties, candidates fined or must pay tens of thousands of dollars

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico’s Office of the Elections Comptroller, known as OCE by its Spanish initials, announced its audit of the political committees that participated in the island’s 2016 elections, which reveal that the parties and gubernatorial candidates spent a combined $18.1 million in public and private funds for their campaigns. Of these, $2.1 million in transactions was not reported to the office, which issued fines and required that $107,530.22 be returned.

As part of the process, in which 652 committees were examined “to determine whether the financial, administrative and operational activities were carried out in accordance with the provisions of the Puerto Rico Political Campaign Financing Oversight Act and the applicable law,” those audited “were given the opportunity to meet with the auditors, to clarify doubts, answer and correct findings, as established by Act 222-2011,” Comptroller Walter Vélez said, adding that “the charges and findings that prevailed in the audit reports were accepted by the political parties and the candidates for governor.”

Regarding the parties, the New Progressive Party (NPP) was found to not have reported $1.1 million in transactions and did not “properly identify $41,000 in donations. Both findings were clarified, corrected and rectified in the corresponding income and expense reports. The sanction imposed for fines and refunds of money totaled $8,881.48,” according to the OCE.

In its campaign, the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) “failed to report $467,915.91 in transactions and did not file 34 fundraising activity reports on time, which were corrected during the audit process. In addition, the improper use of the electoral fund was detected. The penalty imposed on the PDP for fines and reimbursement of money amounted to $28,749.01,” according to the comptroller’s office.

Meanwhile, the Puerto Rican Independence Party was fined $200 “for cash payments in excess of the limit, a matter that is “under reconsideration” before the OCE, it said.

For its part, the Workers’ Party “amended its reports to include $223,738.31 in transactions that had not been reported.”

The comptroller also announced that the publication of the 652 audit reports for the last elections cycle, which identified more than “$5 million in unreported transactions, $951,744.91 in income not deposited and $452,112.66 in cash payments in excess of the limit established by law, among other irregularities found,” will be published in May.

The reports published Sunday and the ones expected to be released next month, include more than $400,000 in fines and funds that must be paid back for infractions to Act 222-2011 and OCE regulations.

The report on the then-gubernatorial candidate of the NPP, now-Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, found donation reports “not filed, expenses and accounts payable not reported and deficiencies in internal controls,” which the OCE said were “clarified, corrected or rectified and did not entail penalties.”

Rossellós campaign reported $51,166 in anonymous donations, or 2% of the income received.

The report for PDP gubernatorial candidate David Bernier included such findings as “income not deposited in the campaign account, cash payments over the allowed limit, and deficiencies in internal controls.” In addition, $337,069 in transactions was “not reported in a timely manner.”

The report establishes that the David Bernier Committee, “through a payment plan agreement, must return money for “excess donations” and “duplicate payments.” His campaign was ordered to pay $66,864.73 in fines and required payments. The committee reported $531,679 in anonymous donations, or 17% of the total.

Puerto Rican Independence Party candidate María de Lourdes Santiago’s report also references unreported spending and internal control deficiencies.

“However, all preliminary findings identified were clarified, corrected or rectified, thus no sanctions were imposed. This committee registered an anonymous donation for $200.00,” according to the OCE.

In the case of the Working People’s Party candidate, Rafael Bernabe, the report presents a “partial finding due to deficiencies in internal controls,” which did not entail fines. His committee reported $2,525 in anonymous donations.

Meanwhile, the treasurers of the Alexandra Lúgaro Aponte and Manuel Cidre Miranda committees were imposed an administrative fine of $100 each for “not retaining documents required by law.” The independent candidates did not report anonymous donations, the OCE said.

“The treasurer of the committee of the primary candidate for governor, Pedro Pierluisi, was fined $835.00, related to cash payments over the limit established in the law and deficiencies in internal controls, and the return of $2,000. This committee reported 7% ($114,693) of its income in anonymous donations,” the release reads.

“The report corresponding to the nominee for governor by direct nomination Raúl López Vergé had no findings or deficiencies,” the office added.

The audit reports are available on OCE’s site, here.




Rep. Jenniffer González: Perelló should have been more ‘prudent’ when refurbishing new office

Rep. Jenniffer González, House minority spokesperson for the NPP and resident commissioner candidate (Inter News Service)

Rep. Jenniffer González, House minority spokesperson for the NPP and resident commissioner candidate (Inter News Service)

SAN JUAN – The spokeswoman for the New Progressive Party (NPP) in the House, Rep. Jenniffer González, said Saturday that Rep. Jaime Perelló should have been “more prudent” before refurnishing a new office after having resigned the presidency of the body due to the short time remaining before the term ends.

“I don’t have many details [about changes to the new office]. I saw what came out publicly, I saw the glass [doors] and names. Four the four months left, I think a little more prudence should have been exercised,” the candidate for resident commissioner told Caribbean Business.

In addition, González said she was “very concerned” about Perelló’s recent trip to Panama, where he participated in a legislative presidents’ forum despite no longer being House speaker.

“Who authorized that? Did he authorized himself before resigning? Did the acting speaker [Roberto Rivera Ruiz de Porras] authorize it? One must especially question, when in the eye of a hurricane…traveling to Panama with government expenses,” the representative stressed.

On Lutgardo Acevedo’s donation

Meanwhile, González defended a $250 ticket she received from Lutgardo Acevedo, an accountant who was convicted of bribing former Judge Manuel Acevedo to acquit him of a case, since he “wasn’t accused” when offering the donation “nor was he involved in anything,” the politician said, adding, “I had no way of knowing he would be [convicted] later.”

“There are donations such as $2,500 to the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz [by now-convicted fundraiser Anaudi Hernández] and we haven’t heard expressions about that,” she said.




Goldman Sachs restricts employee political contributions

FILE - In this Oct. 16, 2014, file photo, a screen at a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange is juxtaposed with the Goldman Sachs booth. The nation’s largest investment bank is barring its top employees from contributing to certain political campaigns, including Donald Trump’s White House bid. The new rules, which went into effect last week, prohibit partners at Goldman Sachs from donating to politicians running for state or local office, or to state officials who are seeking federal office. That applies to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, which means that the Goldman Sachs partners can’t contribute to the Republican ticket.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

In this Oct. 16, 2014, photo, a screen at a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange is juxtaposed with the Goldman Sachs booth.(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK – The nation’s largest investment bank is barring its top employees from contributing to certain political campaigns – including Donald Trump’s White House bid.

The new rules, which went into effect last week, prohibit partners at Goldman Sachs from donating to politicians running for state or local office, or to state officials who are seeking federal office. That applies to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate, which means that the Goldman Sachs partners can’t contribute to the Republican ticket.

The policy, which was spelled out in a memo obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, is meant to remove any implication of a “pay for play” scandal. Four years ago, the bank paid $12 million to settle charges that a Boston-based banker had a bond underwriting business in the state while contributing funds to and working for the campaign of Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill.

The memo specifically highlights the Trump-Pence ticket – and Super PACs supporting the Republicans – as a campaign to which the partners at the New York-based firm can’t donate. But the rules do not apply to the Democratic ticket, since neither Hillary Clinton nor her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine, are currently state officeholders, though Kaine is a former governor.

A spokeswoman for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Many Goldman employees are not impacted by the new rule: only 467 of the bank’s 30,000-plus employees around the globe are partners. But many of those partners tend to be extremely wealthy. And both campaigns’ finance directors – Steven Mnuchin for Trump and Gary Gensler for Clinton- are former Goldman employees who may be inclined to turn to their ex-colleagues for donations.

“The policy change is meant to minimize potential reputational damage caused by any false perception that the firm is attempting to circumvent pay-to-play rules, particularly given partners’ seniority and visibility,” the memo reads. “All failures to pre-clear political activities as outlined below are taken seriously and violations may result in disciplinary action.”

A request for further comment from Goldman Sachs was not immediately returned. The new policy was first reported by Politico.

The Securities Exchange Commission tightened pay-to-play rules in 2010 and Goldman had previously instituted a similar prohibition barring any employee who manages a pension fund for them from making political contributions since they often deal with local officials.

In 2013, soon after leaving the State Department, Clinton delivered three paid speeches to Goldman Sachs. Her political foes, including Trump, have called for her to release the transcripts of those speeches but she has declined.

Clinton hauled in $143 million in August for her presidential bid and the Democratic party, her best fundraising month yet. Trump, who raised more than $80 for his campaign and party in July, is expected to announce his August totals this week.




Candidate questions San Juan Mayor’s ties to convicted fundraiser

carmen yulin (INS)

San Juan Mayor Carmen “Yulín” Cruz

SAN JUAN – New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate for mayor of San Juan, Leo Díaz Urbina, drew attention to the capital’s current  mayor, Carmen “Yulín” Cruz, regarding her connection to convicted businessman and former fundraiser of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), Anaudi Hernández Pérez.

The pro-statehood politician questioned Cruz’s silence in relation to her ties with Hernández Pérez and mention in a government corruption trial about a fundraising event he held in his mansion in Aguadilla for the Cruz.

Díaz Urbina particularly referred to the testimony of the former fundraiser’s business partner, Héctor Vargas Soto, in federal court, which has already involved a significant number of elected PDP officials.

“To date, the mayor of San Juan has not responded regarding her visits to Anaudi’s mansión in Aguadilla nor to the fundraising he allegedly did for her in Aguadilla,” Díaz Urbina said a release in which he also questioned why those fundraising events weren’t reported to the Office of the Electoral Comptroller as required by law.

The NPP candidate said Cruz has the responsibility to clarify the issue to San Juan residents and not evade the matter when asked about those acts that are being judicially challenged.

Díaz Urbina said the issue at hand shouldn’t be treated as something meaningless because “it wasn’t one, but many donations that Anaudi and his business partner did for the mayor of San Juan. And here it’s not only the issue of the donation, but of the activity per sé.”

The trial, which resumes Tuesday with the cross examination of Hernández Pérez, includes c-defendant Sally López Martínez, former director of the Workforce Development Administration; Ivonne Falcón Nieves, former president of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa); her sister, Marielis Falcón Nieves; and Glenn Rivera Pizarro, former assistant of theHouse of Representatives’s technology technology director.




PDP Candidate for House Proposes Banning Contracts for Political Donors

Luis Gallardo (Screengrab from  @LuisGallardoPR on Twitter)

Luis Gallardo (Screengrab from 
@LuisGallardoPR on Twitter)

SAN JUAN – Luis Gallardo, a candidate for the House of Representatives from the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), proposes prohibiting contracts to political donors to fight corruption and political investment. “If you donate money to a campaign, you cannot get contracts,” he said Monday.

Gallardo proposes an amendment to the Fiscalization of Political Campaign Financing Act banning contractors from make donations, which is already the case at the federal level.

According to the U.S. Code’s title 52, section 30119, it is unlawful for any person “who enters into any contract with the United States or any department or agency thereof…to make any contribution of money or other things of value, or to promise expressly or impliedly to make any such contribution to any political party, committee, or candidate for public office or to any person for any political purpose or use.”

Gallardo said it is crucial to discuss such options to “cleanse” the political system.

Last year, a federal appeals court ruled in Wagner v. Federal Election Commission the contractor ban legal and constitutional, indicating it as a legitimate promotion of the government’s interest to safeguard a healthy administration. In January, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected seeing the case and thus the appeals court decision remains in effect.

“Of course, there will always be someone looking for ways to dodge the system, but an amendment like this one would substantially limit political investment,” Gallardo said.

A prohibition like this one would “substantially decrease the amount of funds a candidate can raise. Moreover, it is necessary to also lower the cost of a political campaign and make it more accessible to ordinary citizens who are interested in running for office.”




Héctor Ferrer received money from Anaudi Hernández

SAN JUAN – Héctor J. Ferrer, the Popular Democratic Party’s (PDP) candidate for resident commissioner in Washington, D.C., received donations – within the legal limits –  from a now-convicted fundraiser when he was running for mayor of San Juan.

According to the list of donations by Anaudi Hernández, who is currently testifying in federal court as part of a trial on public corruption, bribery and extortion under the administration of Gov. Alejandro García Padilla, he donated to Ferrer twice, for a total of $625.

The first donation the current PDP candidate for resident commissioner received from Hernández, which was reported as required by political campaign financing law, occurred Nov. 18, 2011, when Ferrer was running for mayor of San Juan .

That first check bounced, and Hernández then wrote Ferrer another check for $625 on Feb. 21, 2012, during the same election cycle in which the party fundraiser became one of García Padilla’s major donors.

Caribbean Business obtained copies of two checks drawn from Hernandez’s account for donations to the Friends of Héctor Ferrer Committee. One was for $425 and another $200 on Aug. 26, 2011.

Hector Ferrer Anaudi checks“At that time, I was running for resident commissioner and that [donation] is reported to the FEC [Federal Election Commission]. I’ll receive the information today and that donation should appear there,” Ferrer told Caribbean Business Wednesday morning. “That was a $200 donation, and according to what my attorney says, donors of $200 or less don’t need to be identified with the FEC.”

On Sunday, Ferrer gave House Speaker Jaime Perelló an ultimatum, to step down within 24 hours for his relationship with Hernández.

“Jaime Perelló has 24 hours to resign,” Ferrer said, following three days of wrangling between party President David Bernier and Perelló for the speaker to resign his post, despite not being charged with a crime, but having close ties with Hernández.

Hernández donated to other politicians

According to Hernández’s list of donations, a copy of which was obtained by Caribbean Business, San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz was another elected official who legally received a $2,500 donation by the fundraiser on Oct. 11, 2012.

During the trial, federal prosecutors presented testimony that Hernández held a fund-raising event for the San Juan mayor at his mansion in Aguadilla.

Hernández donated another $2,500 to the PDP’s San Juan Municipal Committee on Oct. 11, 2012, as well, according to his list of donations and a document from the Office of the Electoral Comptroller.

Sen. Cirilo Tirado was also favored by Hernández, who gave him a $200 donation on May 27, 2012. The fundraiser testified in federal court that he met with Tirado to push the confirmation of Sally López, a co-defendant in the case, at the Workforce Development Administration (ADL by its Spanish initials).

Perelló, who was finally pushed to resign Monday, received three donations by Hernández. On Nov. 21, 2011, $625; on Feb. 21, 2012, another $625; and on March 3, 2012, $800 more, for a total $2,050, according to the donations list and electoral comptroller’s office.

Former Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá received a donation from Hernández as well, $700 on Oct. 25, 2008 .

Gov. García Padilla received six donations by Hernández between 2010 and 2012 for a total of $2,660.

The PDP fundraiser crossed party lines in 2007 and 2010, donating once each of those years to former New Progressive Party President Rolando Crespo.




Pierluisi Urges Other Candidates to Renounce Public Campaign Funds

SAN JUAN – Amid serious budget difficulties at the State Elections Commission (CEE by its acronym in Spanish), Pedro Pierluisi, president of the New Progressive Party (NPP) and one of its two contenders for governor in the upcoming November elections, called on Puerto Rico’s gubernatorial candidates to renounce the Special Fund for the Financing of Electoral Campaigns.

By virtue of the fund, established under Puerto Rico political campaign oversight law, candidates for governor may receive matching funds of up to $5 million from public funds to finance their campaign costs.

“Puerto Rico faces a fiscal crisis, and it is clear this administration has not had the capacity, experience and knowledge to address it. Retirees, special education children, the government’s suppliers and the unemployed are among those who are suffering the consequences,” said Pierluisi, who is facing Ricardo Roselló in the June 5 general primaries for the NPP candidacy for governor.

Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi

Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi

“The example is set at home, so I am willing to renounce the Special Fund and invite the rest of the candidates to do the same,” Pierluisi said in a statement.

While the Special Fund works by matching up to $5 million, in place of these funds, candidates or parties that prefer to do so may opt for a voluntary fund that matches up to $1 million.

Pierluisi estimated that if the gubernatorial candidates were to renounce the Special Fund, it would result in a saving of $15 million, which could be used to provide essential services to people in Puerto Rico.  

He explained that for his proposal to work and for electoral campaigns to take place on a level playing field, “all candidates have to make the commitment of renouncing” the matching funds.

“I am convinced that renouncing the matching funds is a step in the right direction. We will prove to voters that we are a breed of committed leaders, with new styles,” he said.




‘Self-Funded’ Donald Trump Preparing to Seek Big-Donor Money

LAS VEGAS – The billionaire presidential candidate who prides himself on paying his own way and bashed his competition for relying on political donors now wants their money – and lots of it.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, recently hired a national finance chairman, scheduled his first fundraiser and is on the cusp of signing a deal with the Republican Party that would enable him to solicit donations of more than $300,000 apiece from supporters.

His money-raising begins right away.

The still-forming finance team is planning a dialing-for-dollars event on the fifth floor of Trump Tower in New York, and the campaign is at work on a fundraising website focused on small donations. In addition to a May 25 fundraiser at the Los Angeles home of real estate developer Tom Barrack, he’ll hold another soon thereafter in New York.

The political newcomer faces a gargantuan task: A general election campaign can easily run up a $1 billion tab. For the primary race, Trump spent a tiny fraction of that amount – he’s estimated $50 million of his own money, plus about $12 million from donors who sought his campaign out on their own.

Trump told The Associated Press in an interview this week that he will spend minimally on a data operation that can help identify and turn out voters. And he’s betting that the media’s coverage of his rallies and celebrity personality will reduce his need for pricey television advertising.

Yet he acknowledged that the general-election campaign may cost “a lot.” To help raise the needed money, he tapped Steven Mnuchin, a New York investor with ties in Hollywood and Las Vegas but no political fundraising experience.

“To me this is no different than building a business, and this is a business with a fabulous product: Donald Trump,” Mnuchin said in an interview at a financial industry conference in Las Vegas. Trump’s new national finance chairman said prospective donors are “coming out of the woodwork” and he’s been fielding emails and phone calls from people he hasn’t heard from in 20 years.

More experienced fundraisers are coming aboard, too, such as Eli Miller of Washington, Anthony Scaramucci of New York and Ray Washburn of Dallas. All three helped raise money for candidates Trump defeated in the primary.

To convey the amount of work needed to vacuum up money, Scaramucci, part of 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s finance team, recently shared Romney’s old fundraising calendar with Trump. He said Trump was receptive to a schedule that has 50 to 100 fundraisers over the summer.

Scaramucci said he didn’t expect Trump to grovel for donors. “But is he going to say thank you and be appreciative? Of course. He’s very good one-on-one. He’s a hard guy not to like.”

FILE - In this Tuesday, May 10, 2016 file photo, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at Trump Tower, in New York. The billionaire presidential candidate who prides himself on paying his own way and bashed his competitors for their reliance on political donors now wants their money - and lots of it. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, recently hired a national finance chairman, scheduled his first fundraiser and is on the cusp of signing a deal with the Republican Party that would enable him to solicit donations of more than $300,000 apiece from supporters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

In this May 10, 2016 photo,Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office at Trump Tower, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Trump’s dilemma: By asking for money, he could anger supporters who love his assertion that he’s different from most politicians because he isn’t beholden to donors.

He’s tried to navigate these tricky waters by saying he wants only to raise money to benefit the party and help elect other Republicans. But his planned joint fundraising agreement with Republican officials also provides a direct route to his own campaign coffers.

Such an arrangement could work like this: For each large contribution, the first $2,700 or $5,400 goes to Trump’s campaign, the next $33,400 goes to the Republican National Committee, similar amounts could go to national party accounts and the rest is divided evenly among various state parties the candidate selects.

Democrat Hillary Clinton set up such a victory committee in September, and it had collected $61 million by the end of March.

She also counts on several super PACs. They’ve landed million-dollar checks from her friends and supporters and already scheduled $130 million in TV, radio and internet ads leading up to Election Day.

Trump is only now beginning to turn his attention to this kind of big money. A decision on how fully to embrace outside groups is fraught with possible charges of hypocrisy, since he has called them “corrupt.”

Still, wealthy Trump supporters have several options – and megadonors are beginning to line up.

Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire Las Vegas casino owner who was the largest donor of the 2012 presidential race, wrote in a Washington Post editorial this week that he endorses Trump and is urging “those who provide important financial backing” to do the same.

Libertarian billionaire Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and pumped millions of dollars into Ron Paul’s presidential bid four years ago, recently signed on as a California delegate for Trump. And billionaire oil investor T. Boone Pickens said this week he intends to help finance Trump’s effort. He’s invited officials from one of the pro-Trump super PACs to his Texas ranch next month.

That entity, Great America PAC, has struggled to get off the ground but hopes to raise $15 million to $20 million in the next few months, said its chief fundraiser, Eric Beach. The group recently brought on Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager Ed Rollins, whom Trump has praised.

On Thursday, another pro-Trump super PAC emerged. Doug Watts, former communications director for Ben Carson’s 2016 bid, started a group called the Committee for American Sovereignty with an advisory board that include former Trump resorts executive Nicholas Ribis Sr. and longtime GOP donor Kenneth Abramowitz. The group aims to raise $20 million before the GOP convention in July.

One Trump emissary to the world of major donors is billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who made calls to Pickens and others to gauge their interest in Trump.

Some are biting, either because of support for Trump or a desire to keep Clinton out of office. Among the latter group is Stanley Hubbard, a Minnesota broadcast billionaire who spent money trying to “stop Trump.”

Having failed in that quest, he said he’s prepared to write a check to stop Clinton.

The Associated Press




Brazil’s Senate Commission Recommends Rousseff’s Impeachment

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - MARCH 10:  Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff walks in the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation on March 10, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The prominent science and health institute is studying methods to combat the Aedes aegypti mosquito which transmits the Zika virus. Prosecutors have filed charges of money laundering against former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in part of a massive corruption scandal. Protests calling for the impeachment of President Rousseff are scheduled for Sunday.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

SAO PAULO — A Brazilian Senate commission voted overwhelmingly on Friday to advance impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff, putting the embattled leader only one step away from being suspended from office.

Rousseff could now lose the presidency next week, even as Rio de Janeiro gears up for the Olympic Games this summer.

Rousseff has insisted that she has not committed any crime and that the proceedings against her are a coup. She says Vice President Michel Temer, the man who would take her spot, is an “accomplice” in the move to topple her.

Antonio Anastasia, of the right-leaning opposition PSDB party, issued the recommendation for the vote, saying there reasons to believe Rousseff broke fiscal laws, which are impeachable offenses.

“At this moment we are looking at whether the case should be accepted or not, and I think it should,” he said.

On Friday, 15 of the 21 commission members voted to send the matter to the full Senate. Another five voted to end the process and the commission chairman did not vote.

All 81 senators will now consider a vote on Wednesday, in a session that could continue into Thursday.

Rousseff currently is expected to lose that vote as well. She would need 41 of the senators to vote in her favor to end the proceedings.

If the full Senate votes to suspend her, Rousseff will be removed from office for up to 180 days and be tried by senators in proceedings led by Brazil’s chief-justice Ricardo Lewandowski. Rousseff will be permanently stripped of her mandate if two-thirds of senators later find her guilty at a final trial.

Temer has sought support for her impeachment since his party left the ruling coalition.

He also has not been shy in talking to potential Cabinet members and pro-impeachment leaders, something that was discussed during the commission vote. While impeachment advocates insisted that Brazil needed calmer times with Rousseff and her Worker’s Party out of office, her allies called Temer a conspirator.

Rousseff, meanwhile, has celebrated the Brazil’s Supreme Court decision to remove Eduardo Cunha from the speakership of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies. Cunha is accused of corruption and obstruction of justice.

Rousseff’s solicitor-general Jose Eduardo Cardozo said on Thursday that he may ask the Supreme Court to annul impeachment proceeding against the president because Cunha allegedly abused his office to seek revenge against her.

The Associated Press




Cruz, Rubio, Clinton 2016 Bids Get Million-Dollar Boosts

WASHINGTON – The Republican and Democratic presidential contenders reported on the financial health of their national campaigns even as they were in the thick of the Nevada Democratic caucuses and South Carolina primary.

Most of the outside groups known as super political action committees also faced a midnight Saturday deadline to report to the Federal Election Commission.

What we know, with some of that reporting in:

CANDIDATE CASH FLOW

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz began February with considerably more cash available than most, if not all, of his Republican presidential rivals. His campaign had about $13.6 million, even after spending $12.7 million in January alone. He also raised about $7.6 million last month, ahead of his Feb. 1 victory in Iowa.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who finished in second place in second-to-vote New Hampshire, continued to suffer from meager cash flow. His campaign had less than $1.5 million at the beginning of February. His campaign spokesman said he raised more than $1 million in the first few days after New Hampshire – something that won’t be reported to the FEC until mid-March.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson – a political novice who has raised huge amounts of money since beginning his campaign – raised $3.8 million, one of his lowest hauls yet, but spent $10.4 million in January. He had about $4.1 million left at the beginning of February.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton had $33 million in available cash, after spending some $19 million in January, half of it on media buys, her fundraising report shows.

The report shows that her fundraising dipped below that of her primary opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton raised a bit less than $15 million last month, while Sanders landed $21 million.

CRUZ NETWORK GROWS

Cruz has the biggest network of outside groups helping him out – more than half a dozen. A super PAC called Courageous Conservatives has stood out for employing some of the most aggressive tactics, even though it isn’t the best-funded of those pro-Cruz groups.

In the lead-up to the South Carolina vote, Courageous Conservatives made thousands of automated phone calls bashing Donald Trump, who has consistently led polls in the state.

So who’s paying for all this?

The group’s January fundraising report shows it has two donors: Stan Herzog, a Missouri builder, and Christopher Ekstrom, a Dallas investor.

Herzog, who gave $60,000 last month, is a seasoned super PAC donor, having put up more than $1 million to back 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Ekstrom has a relatively short history as a political donor: His $34,500 contribution to Courageous Conservatives last month appears to be his biggest ever.

A far better funded pro-Cruz group, Stand for Truth, also filed a January fundraising report. That super PAC raised about $2.5 million in January. Its biggest contributor, Trinity Equity, gave more than $1 million. Corporate records show the Houston company shares an address with Quantum Energy Partners, a private equity firm run by Wil VanLoh, who has given the maximum legal amount to Cruz’s presidential campaign, $5,400.

Stand for Truth’s FEC documents show the super PAC spent much of its money on South Carolina advertisements knocking Cruz rival Marco Rubio, a Florida senator.

RUBIO’S SILICON VALLEY ASSIST

Rubio also benefits from outside groups. Conservative Solutions PAC spent more than $10.8 million last month- much of it on political advertisements that flooded radio and television ahead of voting in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The super PAC reported raising about $2.5 million during January and started this month with about $5.6 million in available cash.

The group was boosted by a $1 million donation from billionaire Larry Ellison, founder and chairman of the software giant Oracle. Another top contributor was Randy Kendrick, wife of Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick, who was one of handful of donors who gave $250,000.

PRO-CLINTON CASH

A super PAC dedicated to electing Clinton brought in another $9.6 million in big checks last month. About one-third of the money that flowed into Priorities USA was from James Simons, a New York hedge fund billionaire. A laborers’ union contributed $2 million.

Million-dollar donors included Daniel Abraham, founder of the diet product Slim Fast; Houston attorney Steve Mostyn, a major donor to the group in 2012, when it backed President Barack Obama; and Jay and Mary Pritzker of the Chicago family that made its fortune in hotels.

Although Priorities officials had planned to preserve their resources for a general election, the group recently began spending money in the primary, against Sanders.

TRUMP TAKEDOWN? NOT SO MUCH

A super PAC claiming it would try to take down Trump has not really gotten off the ground.

Make America Awesome – a riff on Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan – raised just $8,640 in January. That followed a disappointing December, when it raised just $1,711. The super PAC is led by Republican strategist and outspoken Trump antagonist Liz Mair.

Perhaps because of its underwhelming funding, the super PAC has done just a few digital ads knocking the celebrity businessman.