This Monday Sept. 7, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking a plane to Puerto Rico. On board this plane will be City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. According to Cuomo’s office, they are all flying down for one day, to “assist Puerto Rico” with its current fiscal crisis.
Actually, it’s all an empty show: a photo op hypocrisy of the highest order for everyone involved…especially Cuomo.
Roughly half of Puerto Rico’s $73 public debt is currently held by hedge funds. These hedge funds include Blue Mountain Capital Management, Stone Lion Capital Partners, Paulson & Company, and Third Point.
All four of these hedge funds are major contributors to Gov. Cuomo’s political campaign committee.
Blue Mountain Capital Management (BMCM) owns $400 million in PREPA (Puerto Rico Electric & Power Authority) bonds.
This year alone, BMCM spent $100,000 on eight lobbyists to block HR 870 – the federal legislation that would have made PREPA eligible for bankruptcy protection.
The CEO of BMCM, Andrew Feldstein, is a major and ongoing donor to Gov. Cuomo’s campaign committee. His most recent “contribution” to Cuomo was $31,000.
Stone Lion Capital Partners (SLCP) recently raised $500 million to invest in Puerto Rico “distressed debt.” It is led by Paul Tudor Jones, whose personal net worth is $4.6 billion.
Jones practices austerity in Puerto Rico and generosity with politicians – he’s given millions to them, with Cuomo included.
John Paulson has purchased $120 million in Puerto Rico bonds, $1 billion in beachfront property and resorts, and is the largest investor in Banco Popular, the largest bank on the island. He also “invests” in Gov. Cuomo.
Third Point made $500 million on Greek debt in 2012, and is trying to do the same in Puerto Rico. Its CEO Dan Loeb, and his wife, contributed $97,687 to Cuomo. Loeb also hosted a Hamptons fundraiser for Cuomo in July 2015, in Loeb’s own palatial home, attended by Cuomo and dozens of hedge fund CEOs.
The fundraiser was greeted by over 200 protesters on Loeb’s front lawn, all denouncing the relationship between Cuomo and the dozens of “vulture” hedge funds.
The protesters had a point: in total, Cuomo has received over $1.28 million from the vulture funds, that are circling around Puerto Rico. All of these vulture funds are fiercely opposed to Chapter 9 bankruptcy assistance to the island, because Chapter 9 could reduce – and in some cases eliminate – the money that Puerto Rico “owes” to them.
THE PROTESTS CONTINUE
On Thursday Sept. 3, demonstrators converged on City Hall to demand that Cuomo return the $1.28 million dollars he has taken from the hedge funds, before making his “solidarity tour” to Puerto Rico.
“We’re here because Cuomo has announced a trip to Puerto Rico to express his quote-unquote ‘solidarity,’” said David Galarza of the group Call to Action on Puerto Rico. “You can’t speak out of both sides of your mouth. You can’t claim to be in solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico, yet collect millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the same people that are hurting Puerto Rico.”
Gov. Cuomo refused to comment on the matter, but his spokesman Rich Azzopardi said, “The governor’s commitment to the Puerto Rican government and its people speaks for itself.”
Azzopardi is a wordsmith.
He actually spoke the truth.
Gov. Cuomo’s record does speak for itself.
He is using taxpayer dollars to stage a political photo op in Puerto Rico.
He is taking Puerto Rican politicians along with him, to be used as window dressing and stage props.
He is making a one-day trip to Puerto Rico, taking a few photos with Gov. Garcia Padilla, then hustling back to New York…and his hedge fund partners…who are screwing Puerto Rico.