Thought I’d share this from Fair:
According to recent reporting by NBC 4 New York and the New York Times, Hillary Clinton’s State Department waived the entry ban on a wealthy Ecuadorian woman whose family gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates. (New York Times, Dec. 16, 2014; NBC 4 New York, Dec. 17, 2014) The woman, Estafanía Isaías, whose father and uncle, Roberto and William Isaías, were convicted in absentia for bank fraud in Ecuador in 2012, was barred from the U.S. in 2007 for alien smuggling. (Id.) She had allegedly lied on visa applications in order to bring her maids into the country to work at her parents’ mansion in Coral Gables, Florida. (Id.)
Although banned since 2007, the U.S. government gave Ms. Isaías a series of short-term waivers to enter the country until 2011. (NBC 4 New York, Dec. 17, 2014) These waivers allowed her to visit her father and uncle, who was living in Miami and successfully fighting his extradition to Ecuador for allegedly embezzling millions from the bank he once helped run. (Id.) The Obama Administration refused Ecuador’s requests to extradite them after they gave $90,000 to the President’s reelection campaign. (New York Times, Mar. 11, 2014) By 2011, the U.S. consulate, with growing concerns about allegations of wrongdoing, decided to stop granting Ms. Isaías’ short-term waivers to enter the country. (NBC 4 New York, Dec. 17, 2014)
This enforcement of the travel ban by American diplomats prevented Ms. Isaías from continuing to visit her father and uncle and blocked her from coming to Miami for a job with a communications strategist who had raised half a million dollars for President Obama. (New York Times, Dec. 16, 2014) The family then turned to Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who was up for reelection in 2012, for help. (Id.)
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For more than a year, Senator Menendez and his staff repeatedly phoned and wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills requesting waiver of the travel ban. (Id.; NBC 4 New York, Dec. 17, 2014) Then, Isaías family members in Florida gave $11,000 to Senator Menendez’ reelection campaign, and more than $125,000 to the Obama Victory Fund and the Democratic National Committee. (Id.) According to a senior diplomat, such activity by a Senator on behalf of a foreign national, especially one accused of visa fraud and who was not a constituent of that member of Congress, is “quite unusual.” (New York Times, Dec. 16, 2014)In spring 2012, the State Department granted the Senator’s request to overturn the ban, thus overruling the decision made by U.S. Consular officials in Ecuador. (Id.) On May 15, 2012, Senator Menendez’s office sent an email to the Isaías family to share the good news. This email came one day after Ms. Isaías’ mother gave $40,000 to the Obama Victory Fund. (New York Times, Dec. 16, 2014) After succeeding in gaining a visa for Ms. Isaías, the Senator also began to lobby on behalf of her sister, who had also been banned from the U.S. as an immigrant smuggler. (Id.)