Pat Riley Joins Miami Millionaires in Donating to Cuba Trade PAC

Ezra Fieser  |  Bloomberg Business  |  January 28, 2016

A political action committee that seeks to improve relations between Cuba and the U.S. raised $350,000 in its first seven months, receiving checks from donors including former basketball coach Pat Riley and Miami health-care investor Miguel “Mike” Fernandez.

The New Cuba PAC supports Congressional candidates who favor closer relations between the historical adversaries, which re-established diplomatic ties last year after more than 50 years of estrangement. According to a filing with the Federal Election Commission, donations of $2,300 have already been made to the campaigns for Republican Arizona Senator Jeff Flake and Connecticut Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat. Both have called for an end to the five-decade trade embargo on Cuba.

“As we enter 2016, we will do all that we can to support candidates and elected officials working towards ending the embargo, which will ultimately benefit both U.S. citizens and the Cuban people,” James Williams, the PAC’s co-director, said in a statement.

The embargo, put in place during the Cold War, limits business ties while restricting travel by U.S. citizens and most financial transactions. Since announcing it would seek a diplomatic rapprochement in December 2014, the Obama administration has moved to ease some restrictions, including a new set of rules announced Tuesday that make it easier for American firms to finance and export to the Caribbean island. Fully eliminating the embargo, however, requires an act of Congress.Riley, who won six NBA titles as a player and coach , is currently president of the Miami Heat franchise. He declined to comment on his contribution.

According to the filing, other donors to the PAC include Eric Holoman, president of Magic Johnson Enterprises, and Terremark Worldwide Inc. founder Manuel Medina.

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