Some 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have attacked President Donald Trump over issues in Puerto Rico, but haven’t returned campaign donations from employees of hedge funds that have invested in its debt, an analysis of FEC records by the Daily Caller News Foundation shows.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand have spoken out against Trump and his reluctance to help Puerto Rico with aid packages, but have benefitted from its crippling debt. Together, the two have accepted $36,550 from individuals who work at hedge funds with a stake in Puerto Rico’s debt, FEC filings show.
“It’s shameful, the way we treated Puerto Rico and the islands,” Biden said at a campaign stop event in New Hampshire June 4. “I’m not even sure people in the president’s administration knew Puerto Ricans are all citizens. I’m not joking. And so there’s this notion of somehow, why should we have to make and invest that kind of money in dealing with what is a genuine existential crisis?”
While going after Trump for his reluctance to sign a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill for Puerto Rico, Biden has received $25,350 in campaign contributions from individuals working at the hedge funds, according to FEC filings.
Trump has gone after Puerto Rico’s government in the past for corruption, but he signed the disaster relief bill in early June. Authorities charged multiple people in Puerto Rico with corruption in July regarding the billions of dollars given by the U.S. for approved federal aid.
“Over the past few weeks, Puerto Rico has gone through a democratic uprising, with people from all races, creeds and ages demanding their right to a better future,” the open letter to Democratic candidates reads. “During this recent uprising, we’ve heard you say on social media that you stand with the people of Puerto Rico. But unfortunately, your fundraising activities as Democratic presidential candidates don’t show real solidarity with the Puerto Rican people.”
The letter urged candidates to give back the money received by individuals working at the various hedge funds. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are the only two who have returned the money, American Prospect reported. Warren received $1,000 and Sanders was given $2,700.
“We urge you to do the right thing, and make it immediately clear that hedge fund donors who cause harm to Puerto Rico are not welcome in your presidential campaigns.”
Gillibrand has accepted $11,200 in contributions from individuals working at hedge funds with a stake in Puerto Rico’s debt, and has gone after Trump for his administration’s “inaction” following 2017 Hurricane Maria that hit Puerto Rico.
.@realDonaldTrump claims his administration did a “fantastic job” responding to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. This is coming from the man who threw paper towels at our fellow Americans facing tragedy. The result of the administration’s inaction? A death toll of nearly 3,000. pic.twitter.com/UMsIZ2qj7N
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) September 8, 2018
“I am proud to fight for Puerto Rico in the Senate, and I urge my colleagues to support this legislation just as they would if a natural disaster hit their own states,” Gillibrand said.
Individuals who donated to Democratic campaigns work at hedge funds such as BlueMountain Capital, BlackRock, Oaktree Capital and others, FEC filings show. These hedge funds are all involved in Puerto Rican debt, according to American Prospect, who cited the letter.
“You can either stand with the people of Puerto Rico or with the hedge funds that have harmed Puerto Rico. You can’t do both. If you return the donations these hedge funds have given you, it will send a strong message that you support the political and economic empowerment of Puerto Ricans.”
In total, thirteen presidential candidates have taken a total of $230,900 donations from people working at fifteen different hedge funds, American Prospect reported.
Other Democratic presidential candidates including former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, California Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg have also accepted money from people working at hedge funds invested in the island’s debt and have not returned the contributions, American Prospect reported.
Biden and Gillibrand’s campaigns did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
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