In the race for the White House, Mitt
Romney and Newt Gingrich don't seem to have a problem taking money
from corporate pirates accused of breaking the law to maximize
their profits. Romney has collected at least $100,000 from a
Miami-based investment fund that owns run down apartment buildings in
New York City that were hit with more than 200 code violations and
where tenants went on a rent strike.
Meanwhile, a political action committee backing
Gingrinch recently got a $5 million infusion from a Las Vegas casino
operator under investigation by federal authorities.
According to Romney's campaign reports, he's collected $50,000 from executives at H.I.G. Capital, a Brickell Avenue global private investment firm with more than $8.5 billion of capital under its management. H.I.G. was founded by Anthony Tamer, a former Bain & Co. employee and close friend of Romney who co-chairs the ex-Massachusetts governor's Florida finance committee. Tamer also donated $50,000 to a political action committee supporting Romney.
In 2010, our sister paper, the Village Voice, ranked the worst slum lords in New York City. Taking the number two spot was Steven Cramer, principal of Cronus Capital, H.I.G.'s real estate affiliate. According to the paper, Cronus purchased buildings in Bronx and Washington Heights with the intent of "turning around the underpeforming properties." But sixteen months later, New York officials slapped 216 code violations on one of the buildings. Residents relayed horror stories such as a woman who complained that Cronus's property management arm refused to fix a leaky hole in her ceiling for two years. Another tenant claimed her bathroom ceiling collapsed from an unrepaired leak.
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It appears Romney is also the preferred candidate of some of Miami's wealthiest Republicans. His campaign finance reports show he's collected $2,500 from Diana Cardenas, wife of Al Cardenas, head of the American Conservative Union; $2,500 from real estate developer and former Jeb Bush business partner Armando Codina; $3,500 from builder Stanley Tate and his sons; and metal maker Raul Caseres and his wife kicked in $5,000.
Meanwhile, Gingrinch is being propped up by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who generously gave a cool $5 million to the former House speaker's super PAC, Winning Our Future. Adelson is chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp., one of the big gambling conglomerates that wants to develop a destination casino resort in south Florida.
Last year, on Feb. 9, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission subpoenaed records from Las Vegas Sands relating to its compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The U.S Department of Justice and the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong are also investigating the company. Federal and Chinese investigators are looking into allegations that Las Vegas Sands bribed government officials in Macau, where the company operates a casino resort. U.S. Law prohibits firms from making payments to foreign officials to get or keep business.