Obama Returns $200K Linked to Fugitive

Donations from family of Mexican casino boss Pepe Cardona
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2012 8:57 AM CST
Obama Returns $200K Linked to Fugitive
In this Feb. 2, 2012 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in Washington.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

The Obama campaign has decided to return more than $200,000 worth of donations linked to Juan Jose Rojas Cardona, aka Pepe, a Mexican casino magnate who jumped bail in Iowa in 1994 to avoid drug and fraud charges, and has since come under suspicion of assassinating a business rival and making illegal campaign donations in Mexico. The donations were bundled by Cardona's brothers, Carlos Rojas Cardona and Alberto Rojas Cardona, both Americans. The New York Times confronted the Obama campaign about them yesterday.

At first, the campaign said it hadn't known about Pepe Cardona, but later that day it announced that it would return Carlos and Alberto Cardona's money, and that of "any other donors they brought to the campaign." The brothers still have business ties with Pepe Cardona, and last January, Carlos Cardona sought a pardon for him from Iowa's governor through the Iowa Democratic Party. By fall, they were raising money for Obama and the DNC—even though the president cannot pardon state offenders like Pepe Cardona. (Read more Juan Jose Rojas Cardona stories.)

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