Obama Campaign Returns Controversial Donations

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WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama‘s campaign is returning about $200,000 in contributions collected by family members of a Mexican casino owner who fled the U.S. after facing drug and fraud charges.

The Obama campaign said Monday it had decided to return the donations arranged by Chicago brothers Carlos Cardona and Alberto Rojas Cardona, who had begun raising money for the campaign and the Democratic National Committee last year.

The New York Times reported late Monday that the fundraisers are the brothers of casino owner Juan Jose Rojas Cardona, who skipped bail in Iowa in 1994 and has since been linked to violence and corruption in Mexico.

The campaign said it refunded the money raised by family members after the newspaper asked about the brothers’ fundraising role. Obama campaign officials said they were identifying donations bundled by other people connected to Cardona, expected to be about $100,000, and would return those funds as well.

“On the basis of the questions that have been raised, we will return the contributions from these individuals and from any other donors they brought to the campaign,” said Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt.

The newspaper reported that Gordon Fischer, a lawyer and the former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, had sought a pardon for Juan Jose Rojas Cardona from Iowa Gov. Chet Culver, a Democrat, but none was granted.

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