Turns out Speaker Paul Ryan bailed out Puerto Rico’s richest family with U.S. taxpayer money when he rammed through the controversial $70 billion Puerto Rican bailout bill last month. We have been targeting the district with our Paul Ryan research. If you want to contribute to that, donate here.
Among those bailed out were big time GOP establishment donors Jaime and Zoraida “Zori” Fonalledas, owners of the Plaza Las Americas, Inc., the second-largest shopping mall in Latin America. The 1.8 million square foot mall in San Juan is the largest shopping mall ever built in the Caribbean and now it’s sucking up your taxpayer money.
Zoraida is a superdelegate to the Republican convention this year. She’s also a Republican Party mega donor and supporter, particularly of the Wisconsin GOP delegation. She is a Republican National Committeewoman, was Chairwoman of the 2012 Romney/Ryan presidential campaign in Puerto Rico, and was one of five co-chairs of the RNC’s seminal “Growth and Opportunity Project Commission.” Zoraida Fonalledas is very connected to Paul Ryan.
The Fonalledas were and are prolific donors to the RNC, the NRCC, the Romney/Ryan presidential campaign, other presidential campaigns, various representatives in congress, and others. Since 2010, they have given about $135,000 to these various Republican entities.
The entity spending the largest amount of money ($885,000 over two years) to lobby congress to bail out Puerto Rico was a Puerto Rican business named “Empresas Fonalledas,” run by Zoraida’s husband, Jaime Fonalledas. (The firms retained were Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, as well as Jose Fuentes, the former Puerto Rico Attorney General.) Zoraida is pictured here with Chairman of the RNC Reince Priebus at the 2012 convention.
In 2016, Empresas Fonalledas spent $340,000 on lobbyists to push the Puerto Rico bailout. Here are the disclosure forms. In 2015, Empresas Fonalledas spent $545,000 on lobbyists to push the bailout still more.
The Fonalledas apparently have plenty of money to burn: they gave $20,000 to Jeb Bush’s Super PAC Right to Rise.
The family has used their massive wealth to push for politics that favor their businesses for quite a long time.
Here is Zori Fonalledas (center right) with Puerto Rico Governor Luis Fortuno (right).
When you look at Plaza Las Americas’ 2014 financial statement, you notice that the company held $23 million (carrying value or book value i.e. what they should be worth) of Puerto Rican bonds, but these bonds were only worth $16 million in fair value (on the open market), meaning there was about $7 million in unrealized losses (unrealized because they hadn’t yet tried to sell them, etc.). It seems that Puerto Rican bonds took a massive hit as they were entering their crisis. (Note: In 2013, the unrealized losses were about the same. The losses started in 2012, with about $500,000 in unrealized losses.)
Was it in Empresas Fonalledas’ interest to spend less than $1 million in order to stop a $7 million loss?
Did Paul Ryan bail out Puerto Rico because of pressure from Jaime and Zori Fonalledas?
Paul Ryan is also connected with controversial hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer through his anti-Trump advisor, Dan Senor.
More to come on “Puerto Rico Ryan”…