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Introducing Julian Castro

- October 15, 2015

An Ethically-Challenged Politician Who Is More Concerned About Self-Promotion Than Actually Governing

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TOP TAKEAWAYS

  • Today, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro endorses Hillary Clinton for President.
  • Castro has displayed a pattern of caring far more about building his brand and political advancement than his day job of governing.
  • Castro's history of reaching for the next rung on the political ladder at the expense of governance is best exemplified in his last several years as San Antonio's mayor, where he was out of the city over 200 days, some of which were spent giving paid and political speeches.
  • Castro has an ethically questionable past as the target of a damning Inspector General report, being fined for campaign finance violations, and the recipient of a controversial "referral fee" from a big Democrat donor.

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Today Housing And Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro Will Endorse Clinton In San Antonio. "On Thursday she will headline a 'Latinos for Hillary' rally in San Antonio, Texas, where she is expected to earn an endorsement from Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, the former San Antonio mayor." (Christina Bellantoni, "Essential Politics: Where The Candidates Go From Here," Los Angeles Times, 10/14/15)

AS MAYOR CASTRO REPEATEDLY SHOWED HE IS MORE INTERESTED BUILDING HIS BRAND THAN ACTUALLY GOVERNING

Castro Was Out Of San Antonio For Over 200 Days During His Last Two Years In Office, Giving Speeches In Places Like Iowa

"Castro Spent More Than 200 Days Traveling" Away From San Antonio In 2012 And 2013. "Yes, Hizzoner travels a ton. People complain, just not on the record. It's more like a whisper, an elephant in our city. It's understandable. In 2012 and 2013, Castro spent more than 200 days traveling, records show." (Josh Brodesky, "Whither The Mayor, S.A.'s Frequent Flier?," San Antonio Express-News, 4/13/14)

One Trip Was To Iowa For Sen. Harkin's Steak Fry, "Where He Was Questioned About Presidential And Vice Presidential Ambitions." "[Castro's] trip to Iowa last summer for Sen. Tom Harkin's Annual Steak Fry, where he was questioned about presidential and vice presidential ambitions, is a good example of where not to go." (Josh Brodesky, "Whither The Mayor, S.A.'s Frequent Flier?," San Antonio Express-News, 4/13/14)

In A Matter Of Years, Castro Has Scaled From Being Mayor Of San Antonio To A Prospect For Vice President Without Completing A Single Term In Office

While Running For San Antonio Mayor In 2009 Castro Said He Would Not Use The Position As A Stepping Stone For Higher Office. "To his supporters, Julián Castro is seasoned, focused and ready to lead San Antonio. … Castro said there is no master plan to climb from the city's top elected post into either the governor's office or the U.S. Senate, that for years his prime objective has been the mayor's office." (Greg Jefferson, "What Makes Castro Run? It Depends Who Is Asked," San Antonio Express-News, 3/22/09

In 2012 Castro Said He Would Serve As San Antonio's Mayor Until 2017, When He Would Be Term-Limited. "Castro's mainstay response is that he'll be mayor of San Antonio until 2017, when he's term-limited out of office, if voters will have him." (Josh Baugh And Gary Martin, "The New Faces Of Their Parties," San Antonio Express-News, 8/26/12)

In 2014 Castro Left His Job As Mayor To Become The Secretary Of Housing And Urban Development. "The Senate voted Wednesday to confirm San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, putting the rising political star in the middle of the thorny debate over housing policy and providing him with a platform to boost his national profile." (Jon Prior, "Castro Confirmed To Lead HUD," Politico, 7/9/14)

In 2015 Politico Reported That Castro Allies Were Pushing Him As A Vice Presidential Pick To Clinton. "The Democratic National Convention isn't for 13 months, and Hillary Clinton isn't the party's nominee, but some Hispanic Democratic leaders are already pushing hard for Julián Castro to be her running mate - or at least a top contender for the job. … But the public nature of the pro-Castro campaign has nonetheless rubbed some Clinton allies and staffers the wrong way: One Democratic campaign veteran who is in frequent contact with Clinton's top donors said such a high-profile effort all but ensures that Castro will have a harder time getting through the eventual vetting process." (Gabriel Debenedetti And Annie Karni, "The Campaign To Put Julian Castro On Hillary's VP Shortlist," Politico, 6/4/15)

BOTH CASTRO AND CLINTON CAME UNDER FIRE FOR UNDISCLOSED PAID SPEECHES

In 2013, As The Sitting Mayor, Castro Began Giving Paid Speeches Around The Country, And Did Not Fully Disclose Who Was Paying For His Presence

In February 2013 Castro Began Taking Paid Speaking Engagements While Still Serving As Mayor Of San Antonio. "Last year, I learned [Castro had] leapt into the lecture circuit. … Castro's first gig, in February 2013 at the University of North Texas in Denton, earned him $1,000." (Brian Chasnoff, "Castro Commands Ample Fees To Write, Talk," San Antonio Express-News, 5/10/14)

Castro Earned Anywhere Between $1,000 And $16,250 Per Speech, With Several Speeches Netting More Than $10,000. "Castro's first gig, in February 2013 at the University of North Texas in Denton, earned him $1,000. … In April 2013, he scored $12,750 speaking at the Washington Plaza Hotel. Castro did not list who he spoke to at this engagement. He reeled in the same amount in May 2013 at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, and in September 2013 at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. As noted, October and November 2013 were busy months for the mayor. He earned $16,250 at a gig at the University of Florida in Gainesville; $4,250 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California; $12,750 at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland; $8,500 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago; and another $8,500 at The Depot in Minneapolis." (Brian Chasnoff, "Castro Commands Ample Fees To Write, Talk," San Antonio Express-News, 5/10/14)

Castro Has Declined To Say How Much He Charged For Speeches Beyond The Disclosures Required By Law And Only Disclosed Where He Gave The Speech, Not Who Paid For The Event. "But when I asked [Castro] how much he was charging in speaking fees, he declined to comment. Discussing this income stream, apparently, made the mayor uncomfortable. … In April 2013, he scored $12,750 speaking at the Washington Plaza Hotel. Castro did not list who he spoke to at this engagement. He reeled in the same amount in May 2013 at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, and in September 2013 at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock. As noted, October and November 2013 were busy months for the mayor. He earned $16,250 at a gig at the University of Florida in Gainesville; $4,250 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California; $12,750 at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland; $8,500 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago; and another $8,500 at The Depot in Minneapolis." (Brian Chasnoff, "Castro Commands Ample Fees To Write, Talk," San Antonio Express-News, 5/10/14)

Since Leaving The State Department, Hillary Clinton Was Questioned About Failing To Disclose Paid Speaking Event On Behalf Of The Clinton Foundation

In May 2015 The Clinton Foundation Released A List Of 97 Paid Speeches Clinton And Her Family Gave Over The Last 13 Years, Netting The Foundation Between $12 Million And $26.4 Million. "The Clinton Foundation on Thursday disclosed nearly 100 instances in which it received payments for speeches delivered by Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton over the past 13 years, including a number from foreign entities. In all, the 97 engagements brought between $12 million and $26.4 million into the foundation since 2002." (Jennifer Epstein, "Clinton Family Speeches Netted As Much As $26 Million For Foundation," Bloomberg, 5/21/15)

The Precise Amount The Foundation Netted From Those Speeches Was "Impossible To Compute" Because The Information Was Given In "Broad Categories Of Value, Rather Than Specific Dollar Amounts." "The Clinton Foundation on Thursday disclosed nearly 100 instances in which it received payments for speeches delivered by Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton over the past 13 years, including a number from foreign entities. … A precise number is impossible to compute because the foundation provided the information in broad categories of value, rather than specific dollar amounts." (Jennifer Epstein, "Clinton Family Speeches Netted As Much As $26 Million For Foundation," Bloomberg, 5/21/15)

CASTRO'S HISTORY OF ETHICALLY QUESTIONABLE BEHAVIOR

In 2015 Castro Was Fined By The Texas Ethics Commission For Not Properly Reporting Political Expenditures And Contributions

In 2015 Castro Was Fined By The Texas Ethics Commission For Filing Incorrect Campaign Finance Reports While He Was San Antonio's Mayor. "Housing Secretary Julián Castro has agreed to pay a $5,000 fine to the Texas Ethics Commission to resolve complaints that he filed incorrect campaign-finance reports when he served as San Antonio mayor." (Josh Baugh, "Ex-S.A. Mayor To Pay Fine For Report Glitches," San Antonio Express-News, 7/3/15)

Castro Was Fined For Not Properly Naming Political Contributions, Not Reporting Political Expenditures In A Timely Manner And For Not Properly Disclosing Political Travel Outside Texas. "The commission found that in five campaign-finance reports spanning 2011 through 2013, Castro: Did not properly disclose political contributions maintained in five reports. Did not properly disclose the full names of 14 contributors. Did not report in a timely manner five political expenditures. Did not properly disclose the actual payee information on eight expenditures. Did not fully disclose the name of payee on one political expenditure. Did not properly disclose political expenditures for travel outside Texas." (Josh Baugh, "Ex-S.A. Mayor To Pay Fine For Report Glitches," San Antonio Express-News, 7/3/15)

A 2012 HUD Inspector General Report Noted San Antonio Under Castro "Misused" Federal Funds

In 2008 HUD Awarded San Antonio $8.6 Million To Buy, Refurbish And Resell Vacant Homes As Well As To Refurbish Large Apartment Complexes In The City. "San Antonio was awarded $8.6 million from HUD in 2008 as part of the national Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The city used the money to buy, refurbish and resell homes left vacant after eviction and to also renovate large apartment complexes in the city that were rented out to lower-income tenants." (Jon Prior, "HUD: Castro's City Misused Money," Politico, 5/19/14)

HUD's Inspector General Found $2.5 Million In Renovation Contracts Between 2009 And 2011 Were Awarded Without A Competitive Building Process. "The HUD IG audited how the money was being spent from 2009 to 2011 and found that city officials had awarded $2.5 million in renovation contracts without a competitive bidding process." (Jon Prior, "HUD: Castro's City Misused Money," Politico, 5/19/14)

HUD's Inspector General Found That $1.1 Million Was "Misused" When San Antonio Did Not Dedicate The Money "Toward Housing Lower-Income Families As Required By HUD." "The HUD IG audited how the money was being spent from 2009 to 2011 and found that city officials had awarded $2.5 million in renovation contracts without a competitive bidding process. … The (HUD IG) report also found that the city misused roughly $1.1 million when acquiring and fixing properties because some of the properties were not put toward housing lower-income families as required by HUD." (Jon Prior, "HUD: Castro's City Misused Money," Politico, 5/19/14)

Politico Headline: "HUD: Castro's City Misused Money" (Politico, 5/19/14)

NOTE: "Castro, 39, Became Mayor In May 2009." "Castro, 39, became Mayor in May 2009, a job he continues to hold." (Jon Prior, "HUD: Castro's City Misused Money," Politico, 5/19/14)

Castro's Sketchy "Referral Fee" From A Top Democrat Donor

In 2007 Castro Received A "Seven-Figure 'Referral Fee'" For Sending A Personal Injury Client To A Larger Firm Run By Mikal Watts, Who Later Settled With An Oilfield Services Company. "But the seed money for Castro's time in the mayor's office -- he was first elected in 2009 -- was a controversial seven-figure "referral fee" that Castro, a Harvard-educated lawyer, received from a well-connected trial lawyer and Democratic donor in a personal injury lawsuit in which Castro may or may not have played a major role. The case stemmed from a 2006 drunk driving accident in which three people were killed. … One of the victims, a man who lost his mother, wife, and son in the crash, knew Castro and chose Castro's small firm to represent him in a suit against the oilfield services company. Castro then referred the case to a much larger firm, headed by Mikal Watts, a prominent personal injury lawyer and Democratic contributor. Watts won the case, and a big award, and Castro was paid a seven-figure 'referral fee' for bringing the suit to Watts' firm." (Byron York, "If Chosen For HUD, Julian Castro's Work, Big Payday Could Face Scrutiny," Washington Examiner , 5/18/14)

Watts Was Described By The San Antonio Express-News As A "Democratic Mega-Donor." "Mikal C. Watts, the embattled San Antonio plaintiffs' attorney and Democratic mega-donor, has put his Dominion mansion up for sale." (Patrick Danner, "Watts Selling Dominion Estate," San Antonio Express-News, 5/22/14)

Castro Loaned $200,000 To His 2009 Campaign For San Antonio Mayor "From A Fee He Received For Referring A Case To Trial Lawyer Mikal Watts, A Prominent Democratic Fundraiser." "His current campaign, in some respects, is geared toward undoing that impression. It's a professional effort, one headed by Christian Archer, Hardberger's former campaign manager. Castro loaned his campaign $200,000 last summer - which came from a fee he received for referring a case to trial lawyer Mikal Watts, a prominent Democratic fundraiser." (Greg Jefferson, "What Makes Castro Run? It Depends Who Is Asked," San Antonio Express-News, 3/22/09)

NOTE: Watts Is Currently "Under Federal Investigation Over The Legitimacy Of His Client List In A Case Stemming From The Deadly 2010 BP Oil Spill." "A nationally recognized plaintiff's lawyer and Democratic Party darling who last year hosted a private fundraiser for President Barack Obama finds himself under federal investigation over the legitimacy of his client list in a case stemming from the deadly 2010 BP oil spill." (Guillermo Contreras, "Feds Raid Offices Of BP Plaintiff Attorney," San Antonio Express-News , 2/26/13)

  • In February 2013 Watts' Office Was Searched By Secret Service Agents. "Earlier this month, Secret Service agents served search warrants at Mikal C. Watts' two law offices in northwest San Antonio, the San Antonio Express-News has confirmed with federal officials and Watts' attorney." (Guillermo Contreras, "Feds Raid Offices Of BP Plaintiff Attorney," San Antonio Express-News , 2/26/13)

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