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Tags: Estefania Isaias | Obama Victory Fund

NYT: State Dept. Lifted Ban on Wealthy Ecuadorian Donor

By    |   Wednesday, 17 December 2014 09:23 AM EST

The State Department, while still under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, lifted a ban against a wealthy Ecuadorian woman after her family donated thousands of dollars to Democrat candidates, federal records show, so she could come to the United States and work for a company that raised money for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign.

Estefania Isaias had been blocked from coming to the United States after it was discovered she had committed visa fraud to bring her maids into the country, reports The New York Times.

The Obama administration has made several such decisions for the woman's family, who Ecuador's government says buys its protection from Washington and is able to live in Miami from looting a bank in their home country.

The Isaias family has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to political campaigns while being under investigation for charges of money laundering and immigration fraud, and other family members have received favorable treatment over the past few years.

The Obama administration has also refused to turn over other relatives, Roberto and William Isaias, who are both wanted in Ecuador. Just one year after their relatives donated $90,000 toward Obama's re-election campaign, the administration rejected the extradition request, reports the Times, bringing further complaints from Ecuador.

The brothers were sentenced in absentia in 2012 to eight years in prison for making loans to their own businesses and then getting bailout funds, with Ecuador saying the scheme cost its government  more than $400 million.

Over the years, the family has donated at least $320,000 to political campaigns in the United States, with about $100,000 going to more than a dozen lawmakers, including New Jersey Democrat Sen. Robert Menendez, and three Florida lawmakers, Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Democrat Rep. Joe Garcia, and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, all of whom admitted trying to help the family members with their immigration issues.

Estefania Isaias, a television executive whose father and uncle are the men wanted in Ecuador, left her maids at her parents' home in Miami while she traveled, leading the Ecuador consulate to accuse her of "alien smuggling."

But Isaias was to have come to Miami for a job with a communications strategist working for Obama, and after she was banned from the country, New Jersey's Menendez and his staff pushed Clinton's chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, to remove the ban, the federal records show.

She got her waiver after donations from the family came into Obama's campaign account, the paper reports. An email from Menendez's office came on May 15, 2012, just one day after Isaias' mother donated $40,000 to the Obama Victory Fund.

"In my old profession as a prosecutor, timelines mean a lot," said Ken Boehm, a former prosecutor who now heads the National Legal and Policy Center. "When a donation happens and then something else happens, like the favor, as long as they are very, very close, that really paints a story."

Overall, the family had donated about $100,000 to the Obama Victory Fund, which also finances Democrat candidates, and Isaias' mother, Maria Mercedes, donated $30,000 to the Senate campaign committee headed by Menendez when she sought help from him in her daughter's case.

Menendez’s office has admitted helping Isaias, but denied the money was a factor.

"Our office handled this case no differently than we have thousands of other immigration-related requests over the years, and to suggest that somehow the senator’s longstanding and principled beliefs on immigration have been compromised is just plain absurd," Patricia Enright, the senator’s spokeswoman, told the Times. She said that Isaias had been allowed to travel to the United States six other times despite the ban, and to suddenly come down on lifting the ban seemed wrong.

Menendez has also pushed for the government to lift a ban on Isaias sister, Maria, who also illegally brought in maids and left them with her parents. After he wrote a letter on that sister's behalf, their mother gave yet $20,000 more to the Obama Victory Fund, records show.

The growing scandal could prove problematic for Hillary Clinton's campaign, as Alfredo Balsera, the Obama fundraiser whose firm, Balsera Communications, sponsored Isaías' visa will be backing Clinton if she runs for president in 2016.

A spokesman for Clinton and Mills denied any special treatment for Isaias, reports the Times, and said that the usual procedures were followed.

© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

The State Department, while still under then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, lifted a ban against a wealthy Ecuadorian woman after her family donated thousands of dollars to Democrat candidates.
Estefania Isaias, Obama Victory Fund
Wednesday, 17 December 2014 09:23 AM
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