In the Loop: Democrats get more Cuban American contributions

By Al Kamen
Monday, October 26, 2009

President Obama heads off to Florida on Monday to meet service members at the Naval Air Station in Jacksonville and then proceeds to a heavy-duty fundraiser for House and Senate candidates at the Fontainebleau, a historic hotel in Miami Beach. Those who have given or raised a combined $100,000 will be able to have a few drinks, a picture taken with the POTUS and a table at the VIP dinner. Or it's $30,400 for a couple for everything, and just $500 a person for cocktails only.

There may be some interesting first-time contributions from the largely Republican-leaning Cuban American community. Public Campaign, a nonpartisan campaign finance and watchdog group, says in an upcoming report that a Cuban American financial network, which takes a hard line against any weakening of current trade and travel restrictions on Cuba, has been rapidly increasing its contributions to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The DSCC raised $26,250 from the pro-embargo network in the 2006 election cycle and $88,800 in the 2008 election cycle, Public Campaign is expected to report. But in the first eight months of 2009, the DSCC raised $145,700 from that network, and the fundraiser in Miami could well raise more. (This surge comes while the DSCC's general fundraising is way down from 2007.)

It could be that there was no great reason for these folks to contribute to the Democrats before, but there's growing concern that Obama and his party might be able to put some serious cracks in the long-standing wall around Cuba. So maybe it's time to shore up pro-embargo Democrats? Some pro-embargo folks are on the host committee, including Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, a hard-liner on Cuba who chairs the DSCC, and two Floridians, Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Another Florida Democrat among the hosts, Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, who's running for the Senate, favors keeping the embargo intact but also supported easing travel for Cuban Americans to the island.

Overseas labor

"Elaine Chao Became International Consultant of Wuhan Government" said the headline of a brief blurb on the Web site Chinascope, picking up on an item last week in Mandarin on China Economic Net. (China Scope's translation is pretty good.)

The item reports that Chao, former Peace Corps director, head of the United Way and more recently labor secretary in the George W. Bush administration, agreed to be "international consultant" to the government of Wuhan, the largest city in central China. Chao was in the city to attend a conference on "overseas Chinese development," the note said. "She suggested in an interview that human talent is the most important element in a city's scientific development, and employment is one of the most important issues in society."

Chao, married to Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), is now at the Heritage Foundation.

The Arizona diaspora

Street parking is about to get even easier to find in downtown Phoenix. Roxie Bacon, an immigration lawyer in the Arizona capital, is joining the hordes of Arizonans who have pulled up stakes to come to Washington and work for former governor Janet Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security. Bacon, a former president of the state bar, has been named chief counsel at Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Another candidate

Yet one more name has popped up in the three-legged race to find someone to head the beleaguered Agency for International Development: Carlos Pascual, newly installed in August as ambassador to Mexico. Pascual, who has the advantage of already being vetted, is a former ambassador to Ukraine. He has worked with USAID in Africa and was coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization in the State Department, dealing with strife-torn nations.

Masters of the domain

And now, the winners in the Loop rebranding contest. This was to help federal agencies in need of catchier, more memorable Web addresses.

There were scores of entries from around the world, which we winnowed down to about 40 for our panel of colleagues/judges: Amy Argetsinger of the Reliable Source, Style writer Manuel Roig-Franzia and national-news reporter Philip Rucker. Here, in no particular order, are the winners:

-- The Multi-Family Housing Office should use

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