SAN JUAN – The family wealth of Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico’s non-voting representative in the U.S. Congress, has shot up to $1 million, thanks in large part to the pay received by his wife from Wall Street firms that have tried to capitalize on the island’s financial crisis, according to The New York Times.
“As Puerto Rico has spiraled toward possible bankruptcy, the island’s sole representative in Congress has seen his family wealth swell, thanks in part to Wall Street companies that have sought to capitalize on the island’s financial crisis and have hired his wife to advise them,” said the daily on Wednesday.
The newspaper notes that it is not unusual in Washington to see married couples where one is a lawmaker but both are involved in financial matters of the district the legislator represents.
In this case, it says, the legislation introduced by Pierluisi, 56, would benefit at least two companies who have hired his 51-year-old wife, Maria Elena Carrion, as a financial advisor.
The daily says that Carrion founded her own financial advisory firm 20 days after Pierluisi was elected to Congress in 2008. Since then, the couple’s net worth has increased by 27 times.
During the period, the companies Fundamental Advisors and Och-Ziff Capital Management hired Carrion and have lobbied Pierluisi, according to documents from the lawmaker’s office to which the daily gained access.
The Times explained that a Wall Street hedge fund executive who participated in the sale of $3.5 billion in Puerto Rican debt in March 2014 also raised funds for Pierluisi’s gubernatorial campaign on the island.
A few months after that operation – the largest sale of junk-rated municipal debt ever performed in the United States – “Wall Street executives involved in the transaction turned to Mr. Pierluisi’s office for help,” the paper reported.
Pierluisi introduced a bill first in July 2014 and then again in February 2015 to allow the Puerto Rican government to take advantage of federal bankruptcy provisions available to the 50 states,” the daily said.
For companies like those that hired Carrion, that change in legislation would protect their investments in Puerto Rico if the island decides to declare bankruptcy.
“The congressman took this position for one reason and one reason only – because he believes it is in the best interests of the 3.5 million American citizens that he represents,” his office said in a statement.
Both Carrion and Pierluisi tell the daily that they have pursued independent professional careers and that nothing that Pierluisi has done in Congress has sought in any way to benefit his wife’s firm, Multicultural Capital, or his gubernatorial campaign.