Obama campaign returns $200,000 donation from fugitive’s family

Barak Obama re-election campaign is returning more than $200,000 in donations from the family of a fugitive casino magnate linked to violence and corruption in Mexico who has been seeking a pardon.

Brothers Carlos and Alberto Rojas Cardona, who live and work in Chicago, began raising money for the Obama campaign and the Democratic national committee last year, the New York Times reported, adding that neither had a history of making political donations.

Their brother Juan José Rojas Cardona, also known as Pepe Cardona, jumped bail in Iowa in 1994 and disappeared, fleeing drug and fraud charges in the US, the paper said.

“More than 1.3 million Americans have donated to the campaign and we constantly review those contributions for any issues,” the Obama campaign spokesman, Ben LaBolt, said in an email.

“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.”

The money Alberto Cardona raised put him in the upper tiers of fundraisers known as bundlers, according to a list released last month by the campaign, the New York Times reported.

A state department cable in 2009 said Pepe Cardona was suspected of orchestrating the assassination of a business rival and making illegal campaign donations to Mexican officials, according to the article.

The New York Times cited Obama campaign officials as saying that most of the donations came from the Cardona brothers themselves and other relatives. The campaign was identifying other donations, believed to total less than $100,000, that were bundled from other people, the newspaper said.

Last year, Carlos Cardona arranged for the former chairman of the Iowa Democratic party to seek a pardon from the governor for Pepe Cardona, the paper reported, citing Iowa prosecutors. The report said no pardon was forthcoming.

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