Clinton has used his executive authority to pardon 7 convicted drug dealers.
Clinton gutted the National Office of Drug Control on taking office.
Drug use has doubled since Clinton took office.
MIAMI -- Jorge Cabrera, a drug smuggler who has emerged as one of the most notorious supporters of President Clinton's re-election campaign, was asked for a campaign contribution in the unlikely locale of a hotel in Havana by a prominent Democratic fund-raiser, congressional investigators have learned. [...] On his return to the United States several days after that meeting, in November 1995, Cabrera wrote a check for $20,000 to the Democratic National Committee from an account that included the proceeds from smuggling cocaine from Colombia to the United States, said the investigators, who spoke on condition of anonymity. [...] In early January 1996, three weeks after having attended the Christmas reception at the White House, Cabrera was arrested and charged with importing 6,000 pounds of cocaine into the United States on boats through the Florida Keys. Late last year, e;1H pleaded guilty to those charges and was sentenced to 19 years in federal prison and fined $1.5 million. ----- Drug Smuggler Made Clinton Donation in Cuba, Investigators Say By DON VAN NATTA Jr. New York Times April 4, 1997 MIAMI -- Jorge Cabrera, a drug smuggler who has emerged as one of the most notorious supporters of President Clinton's re-election campaign, was asked for a campaign contribution in the unlikely locale of a hotel in Havana by a prominent Democratic fund-raiser, congressional investigators have learned. The investigators said the fund-raiser, whom they identified as Vivian Mannerud, a Cuban-American businesswoman from Miami, told Cabrera at a meeting at the Copacabana Hotel in Havana that in exchange for a contribution he would be invited to a fund-raising dinner in honor of Vice President Al Gore in an exclusive enclave near Miami. Ms. Mannerud owns Airline Brokers Co., an airline charter service that operates among Havana, the Bahamas and Mexico. On his return to the United States several days after that meeting, in November 1995, Cabrera wrote a check for $20,000 to the Democratic National Committee from an account that included the proceeds from smuggling cocaine from Colombia to the United States, said the investigators, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Within two weeks of the contribution, Cabrera met Gore at the dinner in Miami. Ten days later, Cabrera attended a Christmas reception at the White House hosted by Hillary Rodham Clinton. At the events, Gore and Mrs. Clinton posed for photographs with Cabrera, who has two felony convictions dating from the 1980s and is now in a prison here on a drug-smuggling conviction. In an interview, Ms. Mannerud, who has spoken with the investigators, said she could not recall soliciting a contribution >from Cabrera in Cuba, although she vaguely recalled meeting him there. It is unclear why Cabrera was approached in Cuba and how much Ms. Mannerud or other Democratic fund-raisers might have known about his criminal background. The White House and the Democratic National Committee said the party returned the $20,000 from Cabrera in October, after deciding it was an improper donation. A spokeswoman for the committee, Amy Weiss Tobe, made that point again in a recent interview, adding, "Once we found out about Cabrera's past, we immediately returned the money, and we feel we have put this behind us." Cabrera's contribution and smuggling conviction, which became public knowledge three weeks before Election Day in November, were one of the first examples of the questionable fund-raising practices that have brought criticism to the Democratic Party. By now, the case has come to symbolize the Democratic National Committee's frenetic drive for campaign cash. In early January 1996, three weeks after having attended the Christmas reception at the White House, Cabrera was arrested and charged with importing 6,000 pounds of cocaine into the United States on boats through the Florida Keys. Late last year, he pleaded guilty to those charges and was sentenced to 19 years in federal prison and fined $1.5 million. The new details about the location for the solicitation of Cabrera's contribution and the source of the money have come to light in congressional investigators' interviews here with Cabrera. The investigators, who are looking into possible abuses of campaign fund-raising, are trying to determine whether Cabrera "laundered" drug money when making his $20,000 "soft money" contribution to the campaign. Investigators had originally acted on a tip that an associate of Cabrera had delivered $20,000, in $100 bills, to Ms.Marud's office. But in recent weeks investigators learned that that did not occur. Instead, bank records show that $11,900 in cash, from drug proceeds, was deposited into Cabrera's checking account on Nov. 21, 1995, several officials familiar with the investigation said. The cash was specifically deposited to help cover the $20,000 campaign check, which Cabrera wrote that same day, the officials said. At that time, Cabrera, whose family fishing business is one of the largest suppliers of lobsters and stone crabs to restaurants in southern Florida, was a frequent visitor to Cuba. Several congressional investigators said Cabrera described the solicitation and contribution in interviews with investigators at the North Dade Detention Center in March. Much of his account was backed up by his lawyer here, Stephen J. Bronis, and several former associates of Cabrera. But Bronis declined to say whether his client had used drug money as a campaign contribution. In an interview, Ms. Mannerud said she could not recall whether she had asked Cabrera to contribute while in Cuba, although she said his $20,000 check was "dropped off" at her office in Miami several days before the dinner for Gore. She said a friend had asked Cabrera for the money, but she refused to identify him. But, she added, the friend spoke with investigators several weeks ago. Ms. Mannerud said her associates had reminded her that she briefly met Cabrera at the Copacabana in Miramar, an exclusive area of mansions and embassies in Havana, in late November 1995. "I went to breakfast one morning at the Copa, but I don't remember him very well," she said. "After the papers were full of this guy's name and picture, I asked people, 'Did I eat with this guy?' And people said that I saw him for about five minutes and that was it. I can't imagine sitting at a table in Havana soliciting money for the Democratic Party. Who has time for that?" Ms. Mannerud, who herself contributed $80,850 to the Democrats, was described by officials as a "fairly prominent and successful fund-raiser." According to Bronis, Ms. Mannerud sought out Cabrera at the Copa to make a strong fund-raising pitch for the dinner, to be held in a few weeks in Miami, in honor of Gore. Ms. Mannerud and Cabrera found that they had something in common -- they had both met Fidel Castro. Ms. Mannerud told Cabrera that she needed to raise a certain amount of money to "elevate her level of influence in the Democratic Party," because she was hoping the United States would normalize relations with Cuba, Bronis said. "She believed it was in the best interests of Cuban-Americans of her generation if the United States normalized relations with Cuba," Bronis said. Ms. Mannerud adamantly denied making such statements, saying of Cabrera, "He is nuts." Indeed, she said, her only strong memory of Cabrera is at the fund-raising dinner on Dec. 3, in Coral Gables, Fla., at the home of Jerome Berlin, a lawyer who was indicted in 1990, and later acquitted, of federal conspiracy charges of bribing public officials. Ms. Mannerud said she spoke with Cabrera for about 10 minutes and recalled two distinct facts about their conversation. "One is that he was concerned about the environment because he was a fisherman and he said the quality of the fish was very bad," she said. "The other thing I remember is I had to fix his tie. He said it was the first time he had worn a suit and tie." At that dinner, investigators believe, Cabrera also spoke briefly with Marvin S. Rosen, finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee. In an interview, Rosen said he was introduced to Cabrera by a fund-raiser, who investigators say was Ms. Mannerud. Rosen said the fund-raiser asked him to pass along Cabrera's name to a staff member of the Democratic committee in the hope of having Cabrera invited to a White House reception. Ms. Mannerud said she had no idea that Cabrera had two felony convictions. It was only later that she wondered what he was doing in Havana, she said. Ms. Mannerud said that she had a special license from the Treasury Department to be in Cuba and that she was perplexed that Cabrera would say that she had solicited a contribution from him in Cuba. "Let's suppose I did meet him in Cuba and asked him for money, so what?" she asked. "What is that going to get him?" Investigators say they were particularly surprised to learn that any solicitation of campaign contributions would occur in Cuba because of longstanding United States policy toward that country. The United States first imposed a ban on trade and commerce with Cuba in 1963, allowing extremely few exceptions. The embargo was strengthened in 1992 to prohibit subsidiaries of U.S. companies from doing business in Cuba, and it was tightened again last year to, among other points, punish foreign companies that use property that the government confiscated after the revolution. The embargo does not prohibit travel to Cuba, but rather the spending of dollars there without a special license from the Treasury Department. People with relatives in Cuba, journalists and a few others are allowed to go to the island, but only with the license. Until last year, those people could fly on direct charter flights from Miami. But after Cuban fighter pilots shot down two unarmed civilian planes that belonged to a Cuban-American organization, Brothers to the Rescue, in February 1996, Clinton suspended the charter flights. The president recently renewed that suspension for an additional year. People who obtain special licenses may travel to Cuba, but they have to travel through a third country. Ms. Mannerud's charter service flies through the Bahamas and Mexico. A Cuban-born American, Cabrera was arrested two times on serious drug charges in the 1980s. Both times he pleaded guilty to nondrug felony charges. In 1983, he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for conspiring to bribe a grand jury witness and served 42 months in prison. In 1988, he pleaded guilty to filing a false income-tax return and served one year in prison. After his brief brush with presidential politics, Cabrera was arrested in January 1996 inside a cigar warehouse near here in Dade County, where more than 500 pounds of cocaine had been hidden. He and several accomplices were charged with having smuggled 3,000 pounds of cocaine into the United States through the Keys. When he was arrested, agents found a picture of Cabrera with Castro. Cabrera tried to obtain a lighter sentence by contending that the Cuban Government was involved in his drug trafficking. Bronis said prosecutors began an inquiry into those assertions, but dropped the investigation. "It was pure politics, and it stinks," Bronis said. He asked Attorney General Janet Reno for a special prosecutor to investigate the case. She rejected that request. Congressional investigators are planning to highlight the Havana solicitation and the source of Cabrera's contribution at hearings into campaign financing. In January, Cabrera received an invitation to Clinton's inauguration. ---------------
Photo Op With First Lady
White House Refuses To Release Photos.
White House Finally Releases Photos.
Cabrera as informant