Who is Mark Jimenez? More importantly: Where is Mark Jimenez? And why doesn't anyone in Washington care that this fugitive businessman -- indicted in 1998 on 17 counts of illegal campaign contributions to Democrats -- remains at large, defiantly thumbing his nose at American law and order?
Jimenez is a Philippines-born hustler who came to the U.S. in the mid-1980s. He established Future Tech International, a computer firm that exported parts to lucrative markets in Latin America, and settled in Miami. Jimenez's multi-million-dollar fortune bought him easy access to the Clinton-Gore White House and other cash-starved Democratic campaigns.
Jimenez first met Bill Clinton in 1994, according to the Wall Street Journal, and soon after contributed more than $800,000 to various Democrat causes. Jimenez golfed with Clinton, socialized with now-U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, and attended one of the infamous fund-raising coffee klatches at the White House. He lobbied the administration on behalf of Paraguay, where his firm had major business interests. A month after the coffee meeting, Clinton allowed the country to continue receiving U.S. aid despite restrictions on other Latin American governments that fail to control cocaine smuggling.
In all, Jimenez visited the White House 12 times between 1994 and 1996. He even shelled out $100,000 toward the restoration of the former president's ancestral home in Arkansas. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism notes that photos made available to the press by Jimenez are "usually the ones showing him dining with Bill and Hillary."
Though he doesn't have Kodak moments to show for it, Jimenez also connected with Democrat Senators Bob Torricelli of New Jersey and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. The U.S. Justice Department campaign finance task force says Jimenez -- a foreign citizen barred from making hard-money contributions to U.S. elections -- poured funny money into Clinton, Kennedy and Torricelli's coffers through an illegal straw donation scheme involving 23 of his employees.
It is illegal to disguise the true source of campaign contributions and evade limits by making donations in the name of another. It is illegal to reimburse individuals for political contributions. And it is illegal to use corporate funds for donations directly to candidates.
At least seven of Jimenez's workers who "gave" $1,000 each to Clinton at a Miami fund-raiser Jimenez hosted later received $1,000 bonus checks in return. Jimenez's company pleaded guilty to having falsely claimed the donation reimbursements as deductible payroll expenses on its corporate income tax return. In addition, the company admitted having falsely reported as a charitable contribution deduction a $100,000 donation made to the Democratic National Committee. The company pled guilty to two felony counts of tax evasion and agreed to pay a $1 million fine, plus back taxes and penalties owed.
Jimenez has yet to be held accountable for his role in masterminding this straw donor scheme. In the spring of 1998, just months before the Justice Department indicted him, Jimenez fled back to his native Philippines. He is also wanted for tax evasion, wire fraud, conspiracy, false statements and unpaid debts in Florida.
Jimenez, fugitive from justice, didn't hide in shame. He cozied up to former president Joseph Estrada, helped broker two of the biggest corporate takeovers in the Philippines in recent years, and campaigned successfully for a seat in the Philippine Congress. As the U.S. has sought unsuccessfully to enforce an extradition treaty with the Philippines, Jimenez openly flaunts his political influence in the U.S. -- and like many of his Democrat cronies, accuses federal prosecutors of "discrimination."
While our elected officials, including Sens. Clinton, Torricelli and Kennedy, bray about the corrupting influence of money in politics, they are pathetically silent about this world-class outlaw whose tainted cash they gladly gobbled up. Mark Jimenez's freedom shows that "campaign finance reform" is not only a national farce. It's a global laughingstock.