Obama forced to return $200,000 tied to fugitive Mexican tycoon

Move comes as President urges more campaign funding to match Republicans

Embarrassed it might have taken blood-tainted money, Barack Obama's re-election campaign said it was returning donations of $200,000 (£125,000) from two American supporters after learning that they have a brother known as the "Casino Czar" in Mexico linked to corruption and political violence there.

The swift action by the campaign came after an inquiry about the donations from The New York Times. The newspaper had also learned that the brother, Juan Jose Rojas Cardona, whose casino interests are based in Monterrey, Mexico, jumped bail in Iowa in 1994, where he studied in university, and disappeared. A State Department cable first made public by WikiLeaks also said that the fugitive, more commonly called Pepe Cardona, may have been involved in the assassination in Mexico of a business rival.

The two brothers, who seemingly have been seeking to have their brother cleared of probation violations in the US courts, were identified as Alberto and Carlos Cardona. Both had emerged fairly recently as big donors to Mr Obama and the Democratic Party as well as bundlers seeking to persuade others to contribute.

Separately, the campaign revealed that Mr Obama is to encourage donations to the super-PAC that is backing him, Priorities USA Action. The President has criticised the 2010 Supreme Court ruling that allows unlimited donations to outside groups operating independently of campaigns. But with many groups lining up to help the eventual Republican nominee, it became clear Mr Obama would have to join them not beat them. The super-PACs cannot coordinate directly with campaigns but have played a major role in the Republican primary contests by funding millions in negative ads.

"We are not going to fight this fight with one hand tied behind our back," said Jim Messina, the President's campaign manager. "With so much at stake, we can't allow for two sets of rules."

Mr Messina sent out an email to Obama supporters on Monday night: "Due to unlimited and unprecedented super-PAC spending, we may have no spending advantage (as we did in 2008) and could in fact get outspent. I thought this might help you put the other side's efforts into some context as you talk to friends and supporters about why we need their help and we need it now."

The Obama campaign said it had not been aware of the Cardona brothers' family background when it accepted their support. It isn't clear if they were giving the money in the hope that the President might be able to assist in cleaning the legal slate of their brother in the US.

"On the basis of the questions that have been raised, we will return the contributions from these individuals and from any other donors they brought to the campaign," Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, told The New York Times.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
i100
News
Budapest, 1989. Sleepware and panties.
newsDavid Hlynsky's images of Soviet Union shop windows shine a light on our consumerist culture
Arts and Entertainment
Eleanor Catton has hit back after being accused of 'treachery' for criticising the government.
books
News
In humans, the ability to regulate the expression of genes through thoughts alone could open up an entirely new avenue for medicine.
science
News
Williams says: 'The reason I got jobs was because they would blow the budget on the big guys - but they only had to pay me the price of a cup of tea'
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Associate - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Law Costs - London City

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...

Austen Lloyd: In-House Solicitor / Company Secretary - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: IN-HOUSE - NATIONAL CHARITY - An exciting and...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee