Henry Cisneros: It`s Hard To Keep A Bad Man Down
Given President Obama`s capacity for forgiveness, we should be
thankful that he didn`t offer a post to former San Antonio mayor
Henry Cisneros, the “prominent Hispanic“—to use the
term the media uses lovingly in reference to Latino
politicians—instead of the tax cheats and campaign finance
abusers who have got him admitting: “I
screwed up.” (Watch his confession
Daschle, Health and Human Services and Chief Performance
Nancy Killefer. Both have withdrawn. Treasury Secretary,
Timothy Geithner, also caught cheating on his taxes,
Richardson, Commerce Secretary designate, bowed out for
reasons involving campaign payola. Details are still unfolding.
But they must be grim because, unlike the others,
and without being pushed.
Cisneros, of course, there would be a lot to forgive—for
starters, his scandalous adultery, the hush money he paid to his
Linda Medlar (AKA Linda Jones) and the lies he told the FBI,
leading to his disgrace and departure from the national
political scene…for a while.
Cisneros has been
the news because of his role in the
mortgage meltdown. And
recently he announced a new venture: a non-profit
integrate newcomers to
improving their English and expanding their participation in
Forging Immigration Project, My San Antonio,
January 29, 2009]
Cisneros has also just edited a new book: Latinos and the Nation`s Future.
says triumphantly that the country`s first Hispanic
president “has already been born”.
Cisneros` long track record of deceit and deception became
clear, ironically, when the
administration—much like Obama`s team—failed to do due
diligence in its investigation on then-HUD
decided to “forgive” Cisneros for his past and
public sexual transgressions committed in the late 1980s
while serving the last of his four terms as
But when, during his HUD confirmation hearings, an independent
counsel led by former Attorney General Janet Reno heard
Cisneros` statement that from the period between 1990-1992 he
never paid Medlar more than: "$2,500 at a time, and no more
than $10,000 per year” it represented a criminal
effort to conceal information.
“…many of his payments were substantially larger, and the yearly
totals were between $42,000 and $60,000."
Counsel Sought to Investigate Cisneros, by
Pierre Thomas and
Guy Gugliotta, Washington Post,
March 15, 1995]
findings ultimately resulted in Cisneros` resignation as HUD
Secretary (to the
considerable embarrassment of the US Senate that had confirmed
him unanimously). Just before the start of Cisneros` federal
court trial on 18 felony charges of conspiracy, giving false
statements and obstruction of justice, he entered into a plea
Cisneros` lawyers struck a fantastic deal for him that included
no jail time, no probation and the freedom to seek elective
Pleads Guilty to Lying to FBI Agents, by Bill Miller,
in contrast, went to jail.)
Cisneros who earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts
degrees at Texas A & M, another Master of Arts at Harvard
University`s John F. Kennedy School of Government, a doctor of
public administration at George Washington University and
subsequently served as deputy chairman of the Federal Reserve
Bank of Dallas thought he could get away with lying to the FBI
remains a mystery today.
But years of lies and public infidelity couldn`t keep a bad man
In 1997, immediately after leaving HUD in disgrace,
appointed Cisneros its president and chief executive officer. [Henry
Cisneros, Univision`s New President and CEO, by Rolando
Romero, La Prensa de
But after only three years, Cisneros left
to form the real estate development firm
American CityVista. It was headquartered in
“target areas ripe for development, and will focus principally
on building large distinctive communities in areas where new
residential development has not occurred in recent years.”[Cisneros
Quits Univision, CNN Money, August 7, 2000]
Taking the lead from his old boss, Clinton, who was the first to
promote minority home ownership, Cisneros perpetrated his most
damaging and far-reaching fraud at American CityVista.
As part of its ongoing series that exposed the major players in
the mortgage market`s collapse,
“The Reckoning,” the New York Times fingered
Cisneros as one of the nation`s worst offenders. [Building
Flawed American Dreams, by
David Streitfeld and Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times,
October 18, 2008]
In a joint venture with KB Home, where Cisneros served on the
board, he created Lago
Vista, a 428-home development in a run down industrial
Although Lago Vista translates to “lake view,” the area was mostly
made up of
secondhand car dealerships, light industry and pawnshops.
At one point the “lake”—now fenced off to keep children
a run-off pit for an asphalt plant.
trading on his ethnic ties with the Hispanic community,
encouraged many of the unqualified to buy.
But despite Cisneros` assurances to prospective new homeowners,
nothing panned out.
According to property records
Lago Vista, like
many communities born in the housing boom, is reeling from high
Today`s Lago Vista
is quite different than the panacea with jogging tracks and
maple trees that Cisneros promised his future buyers. Most
homeowners are just trying to get by. Residents say
crime has risen, and with association dues unpaid, they
cannot hire security.
But his victims` personal anguish hardly affects Cisneros.
For the three years he served as a KB Home director, Cisneros
received at least $70,000 in pay and more than $100,000 worth of
In addition, he also received $1.14 million in director`s fees
and stock grants during the six years he was on the board at
Countrywide Financial, another major player in the minority
In all Cisneros earned more than $5 million at Countrywide.
Cisneros claims he reinvested everything in his company.
Not surprisingly, Cisneros doesn`t come around to
Lago Vista much anymore.
says his new non-profit venture
will offer a “life plan” on how immigrants can
“integrate” into American society.
If I were speaking instead of writing, I would say I`m
That Cisneros, who recently drove dozens of Hispanic families
into financial ruin thereby destroying their “life plan,”
can now pretend to take the high road on immigration is beyond
Here`s what a few Lago
Vista Hispanics think of Cisneros, his business practices
and his partners (as told to the Times reporters
Streitfeld and Morgenson):
Victor Ramirez and Lorraine Pulido-Ramirez bought a house in
Lago Vista in 2002.
“This was our first home. I had nothing to compare it to. I
was a student making $17,000 a year, my wife was between
jobs. In retrospect,
how in hell did we qualify? (We) were duped into
believing it was easier than it was. The attitude was, `Sign
here, sign here, don`t read the fine print.`”
Hugo Martinez, who qualified for two Countrywide mortgages to
buy a two-bedroom house with no down payment, recently lost his
job at a car dealership. He has a
lower-paying job as a mechanic and can`t refinance or sell
his house: “They make it easy when you buy. But after a
while, the interest rate goes up. KB Home says they cannot help
us at all.”
Carlo Lee and Patricia Reyes bought their first home, a
three-bedroom house, before Reyes became ill last year and lost
her job. Then, they fell behind on their payments. Last month,
Lee was laid off from one of his jobs, assembling cabinets. He
still works part time at a hospital, but unless the couple come
up with missed payments and fees, they will lose their home.
“Everyone isn`t happy here in
Everyone has a lot of problems.”
Another Lago Vista
resident, truck driver Salvador Gutierrez, woke up recently to
men stealing the tires off his pickup.
Given Cisneros unbroken two decade-long history, it`s tough to
imagine that his newly created immigration outreach scam doesn`t
have an angle in it for him.
Since none of Cisneros` Hispanic targets have any money, it
can`t be a get rich scheme.
vote so Cisneros can`t count on them to elect him to office
on some future day.
But remember, George H. W. Bush`s Treasurer
Catalina Vasquez Villalpando once said of Cisneros and
then-presidential candidate Clinton
"Can you imagine two skirt-chasers campaigning together?".
Maybe the Cisneros “life plan” is be a new way for him to
meet gullible women!
him] is a California native
who recently fled the state because of over-immigration,
over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He
has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the
growth rate stable. A
long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School,
Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It
currently appears in the