Buying the Vote: Don't Fool Yourself: South Florida's Richest Are Calling the Shots in This Election

Earlier this month, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama spent most of their second debate falling over each other to prove who cares more about middle-class voters.

"The middle class is getting crushed," Romney said. "That's what this election is about. It's about who can get the middle class in this country a bright and prosperous future." Obama quickly struck back, whacking Romney over his secretly recorded "47 percent" speech. "[He was talking about] people who are working hard every day," Obama said. "I want to fight for them."

It was all malarkey. Truth is, in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling — which opened the floodgates for unlimited spending by corporations and billionaires — both candidates are more beholden than ever to the 1 percent.

So far, Romney and Obama's wealthiest supporters have pumped $275 million into just the three biggest SuperPACs — the secretive organizations that can take in and spend limitless cash. In all, there are 947 SuperPACs wielding more than half a billion dollars this election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance watchdog.

"The system is based on how many wealthy people you know rather than how many votes can you get," says David Donnelly, executive director of D.C.-based Public Campaign Action Fund, a nonprofit aimed at strengthening campaign finance rules. "As a candidate for president, you spend a huge amount of time thinking about the concerns and problems of those at the top because those are the people you hear from the most."

The fat cats bankrolling both campaigns aren't just throwing around millions out of charity either; they expect to get something in return.

"You're seeing a lot of oil money going to Romney because they want more robust drilling offshore," Donnelly says. "And Obama is getting a lot of Hollywood money because of their concerns with piracy of intellectual properties in China."

South Florida is no exception. In fact, with the state emerging as one of the nation's key swing votes, the richest of the rich in our neck of the woods are intent on getting their money's worth.

Through federal finance reports, New Times has found the six locals who have funneled the most to the campaigns, scouted out just how much richer they are than the rest of us — and most important, tried to suss out just what they hope to gain by getting their guy elected.

Rich Guys for Obama:

Donor: Chris Korge, Coral Gables attorney and business investor.

Contribution: Bundled at least $500,000 for Obama.

How rich is he? Korge rocks a seven-bedroom, eight-bathroom compound near Old Cutler Road that he bought for $1.3 million in 1996. In February, he welcomed Obama for a $15,000-per-person fundraiser in his backyard, a concrete-enclosed pad that includes a pool, a hot tub, and a bar. In 2008, Korge convinced his neighbor, über-hip-hop producer Timbaland, to perform at his fundraiser for Hillary Clinton.

Source of his riches: He's a lawyer who made a fortune representing companies doing business at Miami International Airport. He is currently partners with one of his former clients in airport-concessions deals at MIA and airports around the country, as well as an investor and senior adviser at the Americas Group, a global business consulting firm.

Political infamy: Korge's cousin, disgraced former Miami Beach Mayor Alex Daoud, wrote in his tell-all book, The Sins of South Beach, that Korge tried to bribe him twice when he still ran the city in the early 1990s. (Korge has denied this.) Korge also stayed over at the White House on numerous occasions when Slick Willy was prez.

What would he gain from an Obama win? His company, the Americas Group, is itching to help American companies open up shop in Cuba. During his first term, Obama has relaxed some sanctions against the Castro regime. Last year, he lifted some travel restrictions and allowed Americans to send up to $500 per quarter to Cubans. Can you say Havana bonanza?

Donor: Steven J. Green, Miami Beach philanthropist and CEO of real estate firm Greenstreet Partners.

Contribution: Bundled at least $500,000 for Obama.

How rich is he? In 1987, he and his wife, Dorothea, donated $2.5 million to renovate the west campus library at Florida International University. Twenty-two years later, they dropped $10 million greenbacks for FIU's College of Medicine. The couple kick back inside the ten-bedroom, nine-bathroom La Gorce Country Club estate they bought for $10.7 million in 2004.

Source of his riches: From 1988 to 1996, Green was chairman and chief executive of luggage giant Samsonite Corp. He guided the firm out of bankruptcy in 1993 and took it public after expanding into Eastern Europe and the Middle East. He resigned in 1996 and is currently chairman and CEO of Greenstreet Real Estate Partners.

Political infamy: In 1994, Steven and Dorothea were among 938 Bill Clinton donors who were allegedly rewarded for their fundraising efforts with White House sleepovers in the Lincoln bedroom. After contributing $51,000 to Bill Clinton's reelection effort, the prez named Green U.S. ambassador to Singapore, a cushy post he held until 2001.

What does he gain from Obama? Another plum overseas diplomatic assignment. How's Belgium sound, Stevey?

Donor: Barbara Stiefel, Coral Gables philanthropist and retired pharmaceutical executive.

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10 comments
frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

and don't get me started on the KENNEDYs who looted this country but good

 

no, todays neuveau politico is JON CORZINE who goes from one fortune to the next even if he has to steal the money, raised at GOLDMAN SACHS, senator and governor, then capo of MF Global (i really think the MF stands for mother-f^(*en) makes off with billions in CUSTOMER DEPOSITs (something NO other banker has ever done !) and then goes to DC and spits on the congressional committee

 

we aren't becoming GREECE we're becoming ITALY with our own emperor Berlusconi's - uber-rich who take government power and do whatever they want

frankd4
frankd4 topcommenter

yup AND this is why someone like failin palin has a real chance, (until she opens her mouth to talk, she should have just kept stuffing her piehole with iowa corn-dogs) since these "fat cats" make all the decisions anyway once their BOUGHT and PAID FOR candidate gets elected

 

this isn't anything NEW it just involves much more money

 

years ago a BOUGHT and PAID FOR candidate got himself elected and was asked..."well now that your elected, who is going to be your chief deputy commissioner ?"....the newly elected candidate responded...."i don't know, they haven't told me yet"

 

to get elected today the candidate needs the big money of the very few uber-rich and the votes of the impoverished poor masses yearning to be free little "we the" people - then, once elected, forget about the masses and pay-back the uber-rich

 

WALL STREET trumps MAIN STREET - period

 

Paul641
Paul641

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah The Rich Are Running The Show But,---You Know What? They LOST AND LOST BIG! 'Mittens' Is NOT Getting Elected Despite ALL THAT MONEY The Gop Fascist GreedHeads Laid Out. 'Poor Boobies!' God Bless Barack Obama And The Vast Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy That He Has Saved Each And Every One Of Us Americans From! We All Prayed And The Lord Listened! . . . Thank You Jesus. THANK YOU!!!

joeP
joeP

I keep wondering what Obama will do differently, and am still wondering how anyone can vote for more of the same.

 

what will Obama do differently than the last 4 years? 

 

does anyone really want 4 more years of the status quo?

illicitgains
illicitgains

 @joeP when Obama spanked the credit card industry and everyone got more fineprint in the mail....remember that u idiot? remember 39% interest rates?

illicitgains
illicitgains

 @joeP WHEN Obama spanked the banks & credit card industries and everyone got fineprint in the mail....remember that? 39% interest rates? remember that u idiot?

riverrat69
riverrat69 topcommenter

 @joeP

 Well, here's what Mitt would do.... from the Oct 29 2012 issue of Forbes. A well known liberal site.

During one of the 2011 GOP presidential debates sponsored by CNN, Mitt Romney argued that the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be disbanded and replaced by handing over the responsibility to the states to deal with their own emergencies.

Here’s what the Republican candidate had to say when asked whether FEMA should be shut down:

“Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better...

 

Mitt can send Bain Capital to New Jersey to take care of the disaster. I'm sure they and the state of New Jersey can fund and handle the cleanup way better and cheaper than FEMA.

cindydnovak
cindydnovak

 @riverrat69  @joeP

 Romney on FEMA:  "I believe that FEMA plays a key role in working with states and localities to prepare for and respond to natural disasters. As president, I will ensure FEMA has the funding it needs to fulfill its mission, while directing maximum resources to the first responders who work tirelessly to help those in need, because states and localities are in the best position to get aid to the individuals and communities affected by natural disasters."

 

As someone who is living through Sandy and lived through numerous hurricanes in Florida, I have seen incredible abuses taken of FEMA (hmmm....new pool where there wasn't one before, etc...) As well as the burocracy necessary because you are dealing with federal government.  The more you trickle it down, the faster you can get help to people who really need it---not people that need to re-do their bathrooms. Obama speaks beautifully, always has.  But right now the people in the Rockaways here in NY, STILL have not received food (unless private organizations have brought it in- aka Romney backed---except these groups received no assistance in their good work) and shelter and we are on day 4.  Are YOU willing to wait 4-5 or more days until the federal government feeds you in a crisis? 

 

cindydnovak
cindydnovak

 @riverrat69  @cindydnovak  @joeP

 I think you need to re-read it.  It was very clear and to the point.  You just choose not to see it.  Fema is not a well run organization as is the case with most federally run agencies.  The quote was from the article.  Did you read that?  Romney very clearly and concisely says Fema should be there on a state and local level---not on a federal level.  The funds would be the same funds they are now, just distributed on a different level to cut through the red tape.  It's all there.  Again....you just need to read it.  As for Bain Capital, since Romney has been out of Bain for the last 13 years, I'm guessing they would be as likely to fund Fema as any of the other asset management companies. While we're on the topic of making ridiculous statements that have no bearing on anything, Maybe Obama can help out by bringing his 401K dollars back home.  11 million isn't too shabby and he can distribute his wealth as he seems so intent on doing with everyone elses.

riverrat69
riverrat69 topcommenter

 @cindydnovak  @riverrat69  @joeP

 Your first paragraph quotes Mitts Wednesday fllip flop.  Then you seem to forget what you posted. Just where do you think the funds are going to come from to rebuild the destroyed infrastructure? You think Bain Capital can handle it?

 
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