Rene Vaszues Botet: The Extortionist

Conor Kenny

Vazquez is a former official in Puerto Rico’s New Progressive Party (NPP), whose officials are often allied with the Republican Party. After he served as Bush’s Puerto Rico presidential campaign finance chair in 2000, Bush appointed Vazquez to a Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.

In 2004, a federal grand jury indicted Vazquez on charges of conspiracy, extortion and fraud. Vazquez allegedly colluded with another NPP party official and a NPP Puerto Rican House of Representatives member – who has since pleaded guilty – to demand more than $2 million in kickbacks from construction firms in exchange for using their clout to help secure contracts worth $300 million. The grand jury says that Vazquez received over $300,000 from contractors from 1996 to 1999, ending at about the same time Vazquez was likely gearing up his fundraising for Bush’s 2000 campaign. party.

Vazquez, who has pleaded not guilty, faces up to 100 years in prison and $2 million in fines if convicted.

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Conor Kenny is the editor of Con​gress​pe​dia​.org, a collaborative online citizen’s encyclopedia on Congress. He is also a former money in politics investigative researcher for Public Citizen.
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