Jose "Pepe" Fanjul, a host at a fundraising luncheon held in Palm Beach on Feb. 22 where Brown appeared alongside Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is the CEO of two sugar-production companies whose workers, by some accounts, live in conditions likened to "modern-day slavery."
Fanjul's background in relation to the Brown-Rubio fundraiser was first reported by the left-leaning political blog "Think Progress."
When asked about the report, Brown's campaign declined to comment, but mentioned that he is a co-sponsor of the Stop Unfair Giveaways and Restrictions Act of 2011 which would, in part, eliminate some government subsidies for the sugar industry while raising the tariff on imported raw and processed sugar.
Further research revealed that although Jose and his brother Alexander are major contributors to Republican candidates, their brothers Alfonso and Andres, who are also owners of the family business, are equally generous supporters of Democrats, including Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass, and President Barack Obama.
Jose Fanjul is listed as the president of Fanjul Corp. and Florida Crystals Corporation, two Fanjul family-owned companies principally engaged in the production of sugar. Criticism of wages and working conditions in the sugar-production industry isn't new, but Fanjul-owned facilities in the Dominican Republic and Florida have been the target of some of the most scathing charges of employees living in squalor and making less than $2 a day for 12 hours of work.
The family's company was also among those sued by former migrant workers who claimed they were cheated out of minimum pay promised when they left their respective countries, primarily Jamaica, to work the sugar fields in Florida.
Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks also paint the Fanjul family in a potentially negative light, crediting its corporation for helping derail the Central American Free Trade Agreement. A report on the Wikileaks cables by the Palm Beach Post said the Fanjul family used disinformation and bribery of reporters in the Dominican Republic to build support against the trade agreement, proposed by President George W. Bush, who some members of the Fanjul family supported financially in his run for the White House.
A lawyer for the Fanjul family denied the claims made in the diplomatic cables, calling them "chatty gossip," but the criticisms of the sugar industry for conditions its employees reportedly endure carry on.
According to Federal Election Commission data, Jose Fanjul has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to many conservative political action committees and Republican political candidates in recent history, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and GOP Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, in addition to Brown.
Conversely, FEC data show that Alfonso Fanjul has contributed to the campaigns of not only Obama and Kerry, but also Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee.
American Sugar Refining, Inc., the world's largest sugar refining company, is owned by the Fanjul family through its Florida Crystals Corporation. Once only the largest sugar refining company in North America, in 2010, it acquired the Tate & Lyle company, which was the largest sugar refiner in Europe.
The following video clip highlights some of the Fanjul family's political connections:
YOU MUST SEE these two photoblogs from Washington Post and msnbc.com!! For decades, Haitians have been fleeing the turmoil of their country to work as seasonal laborers in the sugar cane industry in the Dominican Republic, where living and working conditions are often extremely poor, with limited access to health care, no running water or sanitary facilities, and a lack of electricity....... Read about the Sugar Barons behind the child workers and slavery like conditions!
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