Several anti-abortion activists and websites are drawing a connection between Hillary Clinton and members of a family who Orange County prosecutors accuse of selling baby parts for profit.
These connections make more sense if you do what investigators on the trail of criminals do: write the names of Isaías family members on a dry-eraser board and connect them to one another with straight lines.
At the top would be Roberto and William Isaías, banking brothers who have been tried in absentia for embezzlement in Ecuador and now live as fugitives and very wealthy businessmen in Florida.
Just underneath them would be their brother Estefano Isaías Sr., who also resides in Florida and was alleged to be involved in the Ecuadoran financial scheme, although he was never tried.
Estefano Sr., his son Estefano Jr., his other son Andres Isaías and his nephew Luis Isaías—son of Roberto—have all been implicated in Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas' consumer protection lawsuit against DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics, which variously list the men was owners, managers or principles.
Claiming the Yorba Linda-based companies unfairly, unlawfully and fraudulently collect fetal tissue and cells from Planned Parenthood and then sell them at a profit, the DA's complaint aims to stop future sales and make the companies pay restitution to those harmed by their business practices as well as any civil penalties a court imposes, Rackauckas explained at an Oct. 12 press conference.
"This case is not about whether it should be lawful to sell fetal parts or whether fetal tissue research is ethical or legal,” Rackauckas said that day. “We are simply charging DV Biologics, DaVinci Biosciences, and a father and his two sons with illegally selling hundreds of fetal tissue products for profit and treating human parts as commodities instead of giving it the respect the [California] law intended. This lawsuit is aimed at taking the profit out of selling body parts.”
The OCDA also stated the evidence showed Planned Parenthood broke no laws in the case, which was first sparked by Irvine-based anti-abortion group the Center for Medical Progress producing undercover videos of an official with the women's health nonprofit talking about supplying fetal tissue to the Isaias-owned companies.
So how does Clinton figure into all of this?
The New York Times reported in 2014 that her State Department requested the lifting of a ban on Estefanía Isaías entering the country. Roberto's daughter had been barred from coming to the U.S. after being caught fraudulently obtaining visas for her maids.
This was after members of the Isaías' family had given hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to help elect Clinton's boss, President Barack Obama, as well as Florida members of Congress and candidates for those seats from both parties.
Ironically, during his 2014 reelection campaign, Congressman Joe Garcia (D-Florida) accused his Republican rival Carlos Curbelo of having illegally lobbied for the Isaíases. How did Garcia know? Because he claimed to be present when it happened. Himself a recipient of tens of thousands of dollars worth of campaign contributions from the Isaías family, Garcia went on to lose his seat to Curbelo.
Andres Isaías also contributed to the 2016 presidential campaign of Republican Marco Rubio, whose office, like those of other members of the Florida congressional delegation, helped Isaías family members with visa and other issues over the years. (Rubio's U.S. Senate counterpart, Democrat Bill Nelson, also received Isaías family contributions but decided against helping them.)
The White House previously denied campaign contributions influenced any decisions involving Isaías family members. The Obama administration claims instead that the Isaías immigration issues are part of the tug-of-war with Ecuador President Rafael Correa's administration, which has demanded the extradition of "criminals" Roberto and William Isaías.
Obamans are miffed that Ecuador expressed a willingness to grant asylum to Edward Snowden and is giving shelter to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in its London embassy.
Speaking of Wikileaks, its Clinton email data dump exposed a message mentioning the Isaíases to an aide of the then-Secretary of State. That email has become the smoking gun for both Republican foes of her presidential election as well as anti-abortion activists trying to shame her for the Isaías family ties to the Orange County prosecution and her own to reproductive rights.
Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions have been given to PACs and candidates from Isaías family members, including spouses, since at least the 2008 election cycle.
In the Times story from two years back, Roberto Isaías defended such donations, saying his family supports any candidate who champions free speech and human rights in Latin America. He also noted that he and his brother William could not personally donate because they did not have green cards at the time.
The brothers' reason for coming to America dates back to the late 1990s. Their bank Filanbanco had for many years been the leading banking institution in Ecuador, so solid it survived the country's 1998-99 economic crisis. But Filanbanco was nationalized and forced to merge with a smaller bank whose enormous debts crippled the bigger bank.
The Isaías family blames the Ecuadoran government for Filanbanco's collapse in 2001. They are not the only ones who believe the government, to cover up its own malfeasance, shifted the negative light to the Isaiases, leading to the family's flight to South Florida.
While in the U.S., the family has diversified into real estate, bioscience and telecommunications. Having owned television networks in Ecuador (that the government also eventually took over), Isaíases own Miami-based Wreal LLC, which counts among its companies Fyre TV. In 2009, then-CEO Estefano Isaías Jr. envisioned Fyre TV would become "the Netflix of porn."
Fyre TV just made headlines last week with its unsuccessful case against Amazon, which Wreal had accused of creating market confusion with its own Fire TV streaming media player.
Luis Isaias was formerly in a partnership with CNN to distribute Spanish language programming in five cities—four of them on stations his father Roberto gave him. But two weeks after an NBC station reported in late January 2014 that Sen. Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) was under federal investigation for having received donations from the Isaias family and having written on its behalf to the Department of Homeland Security, CNN Latino was cancelled.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.