A Cuban-American author who wrote pro-Trump pieces for taxpayer-funded Radio & TV Martí was not paid for his work, a U.S. Agency for Global Media spokeswoman told the Washington Post.
If that’s true, Radio & TV Martí may have violated federal law. Federal agencies are prohibited from receiving free work under a little-known law called the Antideficiency Act.
The law bans “accepting voluntary services for the United States,” according to the Government Accountability Office, or GAO.
The Agency for Global Media, or USAGM, began an internal investigation of Radio & TV Martí content after the organization published a hit piece about Democratic donor George Soros, described as a “nonpracticing Jew of flexible morals.”
The Post reported:
Four Martí employees have been placed on leave and two contract staffers have been fired, according to Nasserie Carew, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Agency for Global Media. All are reporters and editors, according to biographies on Martí’s website and on social media.
Anchor Maite Luna, who said she was one of the fired contract staffers, told The Washington Post that she was only doing what she had been instructed to do by editors when she promoted May’s Soros report on her morning news program. Luna declined to say more, citing the advice of attorneys.
The Post said the internal investigation has expanded to find out why the media outlet published an anti-Muslim piece warning that the “Islamization” of Europe was “destroying the continent’s Christian character” and posing a greater danger “than that from the Nazis in the 1940s.”
Cuban-born author Juan Felipe Benemelis wrote the anti-Muslim essay, which was published in September. The Post said the story, which has since been deleted, showed an image of Muslims kneeling in prayer over a headline stating: “Europa + Arabia = Eurabia.”
Benemelis is also author of a self-published book called, “The Trump Era.” He wrote it with Myriam Witcher, the Colombian-born woman who drew attention after jumping onto the stage during a Trump event in Las Vegas and yelling:
I am Hispanic and I vote for Mr. Trump, we vote for Mr. Trump, Mr. Trump, we love him, we love him, straight to the White House!
Afterward, Witcher told CNN she had seen Trump in her dreams three days before the event and was thrilled to hug him on stage.
Witcher said she wasn’t worried about Trump’s plans to deport undocumented immigrants and his claims that Mexican immigrants were “rapists” and “killers.” She told CNN:
It doesn’t bother me at all. Mr. Trump he is 100 percent right. He is our perfect man. He is my perfect man … everything he says is absolutely right. He is our man sent from heaven. He’s a very very beautiful human being, beautiful heart, a lot of love and compassion.
Witcher’s loyalty led to an online petition asking Trump to name her U.S. ambassador to Colombia. More than 400 people signed the petition, but Trump did not name her ambassador. Kevin Whitaker, head of the Office of Cuban Affairs from 2002 to 2005, already has that job.
Benemelis, 74, lives in Miami. He directed the African affairs in Cuba’s Foreign Ministry before leaving the country in 1980, according to the Chicago Tribune. The newspaper quoted him in a 1985 story entitled, “Uncertainty in Moscow clouds outlook in Cuba,” and described him as “a Washington consultant on Cuban affairs.”
In 1988, a newspaper called the Jewish Floridian quoted Benemelis, calling him a “high-level defector” and author of the book, “Castro’s Subversion and Terrorism in South Africa.”
Public records describe Benemelis as Jewish, a claim I have not confirmed. The Post said his now deleted piece for Radio & TV Martí portrayed “Islam as inherently violent” and warned “Europeans must turn back Muslim migrants to save Western democracy and culture.” See three other pieces Benemelis wrote for Radio & TV Martí – here, here and here.
The author’s book, “The Trump Era,” is sympathetic to the president. It states:
His achievements during his two years in office already rank it as one of the most successful presidencies. Trump’s tax reform achieves historic success: $370 billion of corporate profits have already returned. The economic growth was put at a rate of 4.1% per annul, unemployment is near its best minimum in 18 years; exports are increasing. Middle Class income rises to highest on record; he made the United States “energy independent”; more than four million new jobs have been added; Black and Hispanic Unemployment rates hit record low. Worker’s pay rate hits highest level since 2008. He repealed individual mandate of Obamacare; terminates the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and signed new trade deals with Mexico, Canada and South Korea. The construction of an important border Wall has begun and the security of the borders has been greatly strengthened. We must be politically active and vote at all times. Freedom and opportunities are not forever; we must continue defending our liberties.
Benemelis also wrote a book that says “supposedly scientific” global warming is “the biggest deception of all times.” The book claims that humans have not caused any significant global warming and climate change is “a natural phenomenon.”
In 2003, Benemelis wrote a book called, Las guerras secretas de Fidel Castro or The Secret Wars of Fidel Castro. It was published with support from the Grupo de Apoyo a la Democracia en Cuba, a Miami group that has received millions of tax dollars for its democracy promotion programs in Cuba.
The GAO asks federal agencies to submit Antideficiency Act reports to Julie Matta, Managing Associate General Counsel, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-512-4023.
The GAO states:
Federal employees who violate the Antideficiency Act are subject to two types of sanctions: administrative and penal. Employees may be subject to appropriate administrative discipline including, when circumstances warrant, suspension from duty without pay or removal from office. In addition, employees may also be subject to fines, imprisonment, or both.
Once it is determined that there has been a violation of 31 U.S.C. §§ 1341(a), 1342, or 1517(a), the agency head “shall report immediately to the President and Congress all relevant facts and a statement of actions taken.” 31 U.S.C. §§ 1351, 1517(b). The reports are to be signed by the agency head. The report to the President is to be forwarded through the Director of OMB. In addition, the heads of executive branch agencies and the Mayor of the District of Columbia shall also transmit “[a] copy of each report . . . to the Comptroller General on the same date the report is transmitted to the President and Congress.” 31 U.S.C. §§ 1351, 1517(b), as amended by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, Pub. L. No. 108-447, div. G, title II, § 1401, 118 Stat. 2809, 3192 (Dec. 8, 2004).