The Miami Herald details a new report today on how money affects Cuba policy.
Public Campaign , a non-profit campaign finance research group, just released the most extensive study of Cuban-American political donations to date. The conclusion: big money from political action committees is the reason for our stagnant Cuba policy.
This can't be news to anyone who's been paying attention to the U.S. Cuba relationship. But it's sobering given that a majority of Americans favor reforming our policy towards Cuba. Even more troubling, so does the majority of Cuban Americans! Perhaps this report is a reason for optimism. Polls, momentum and common sense are on our side. It's just all that money.
In the report, Public Campaign finds that, "The intent of these donations is clear, and the impact of them is equally clear – recipients of these contributions, more often than not, cast their votes on Cuba policy issues with the hard-liners from the Cuban-American community, rather than in alignment with public opinion or the interests of their own constituencies." The reality: 337 federal candidates received campaign contributions from the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC since 2004. In the 2010 cycle, the PAC has already donated more than $150,000.
The Cuban-Americans who oppose any change in U.S. policy have a right to make such donations. What's disconcerting is when members of congress outside Miami accept donations and then change their position. The report found at least 18 members whose voting record on Cuba shifted away from engagement after receiving contributions-sometimes right after.
Wealthy Cuban Americans in South Florida used to rely on Republican members of congress to maintain the embargo. But Public Campaign finds that Cuban American hard-liners have recently been targeting Democrats and especially new members of congress. Recently, a group of Democratic representatives in the House sent an unsolicited letter to Nancy Pelosi asking the Speaker to halt any changes in U.S.-Cuba policy. The signers had received over $850,000 from Cuban American donors and PACS, according to the report. This comes at a time when a bill to allow unrestricted travel for all Americans has a very good chance of passing with bipartisan support.
Read the report. Then speak up and make your congressional representative speak for you, too.