Whatever happened to Mark Jimenez?
Readers may recall the story of former Clinton associate Mark Jimenez, the man who was convicted for tax evasion and election financing offenses in a Florida court. He now has a website in which he tells the story of his life. And boy what a story it is.
Currently, Jimenez describes himself as a "Businessman. Philanthrophist. Humanitarian. Populist. Controversial. Ex-convict. God-fearing," though not necessarily in that order. Here are excerpts from his website.
LIFE WITH THE CLINTONS
Mark first met former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1994, and the meeting brought him close to the occupants of the White House in Washington. Mark was soon playing golf with the American president and socializing with former First Lady and now-Sen. Hillary Clinton.
He became Florida's largest donor to the Democratic Party in 1996. He reportedly contributed more than US$800,000 to various Democrat causes. He also donated generously to the renovation of Clinton's ancestral home in Arkansas. Other prominent Democrats at that time such as Vice President Al Gore, Senator Edward Kennedy, and many others also regarded him as a major supporter and close friend. Soon, the White House was consulting Mark on Latin American affairs.
Mark had visited and even stayed overnight at the White House at least a dozen times. He slept in a room on the same floor where the first couple's bedroom was located, the only Filipino given such an honor by the American president.
The fascination of Mark Jimenez with the Democrats is understandable. He was, and still is, a populist at heart, and the Democratic Party's platform is similar to the populist ideology Mark believed in. The word populism comes from the Latin word "populus," which generally means people as a nation.
As an ideology, populism spouses the idea that the government should be run by the people. Populism is in direct contrast with elitism, aristocracy, or plutocracy that espouses government by a small, privileged group above the masses.
Here's how Jimenez describes his persecution -- or prosecution if you prefer. "In 1996 President Clinton and Vice President Gore were reelected although Republicans retained their control of Congress. Hurting for their presidential election defeat, the Republicans accused the Democratic Party in 1997 of illegal campaign solicitations and fund-raising practices. Allegedly, the Democratic Party had collected contributions from foreign companies and individuals, who under campaign finance rules are not allowed to contribute money to political campaigns. The ensuing witch hunt cornered what the Republicans perceived as their political enemies, including Mark Jimenez. A case was filed against him in the U.S. on April 15, 1999, and a petition for extradition was later on submitted to the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ). ... They reported that Mark was being sought by U.S. Authorities because he was a drug dealer, a money launderer, a smuggler, a tax evader, a racketeer, or a mafiosi."
Jimenez presents himself as being innocent of these occupations; at any rate he was extradited from the Philippines, where he had instantly reacquired his Filipino citizenship and was elected as a Congressman. He used his position to resist extradition. However, Jimenez was eventually returned to the US and sentenced by District Judge Patricia Sietz of the US District Court for the Southern district of Florida, Miami Division to 27 months in prison on charges of tax evasion and election financing offenses on August 1, 2003. In addition to the prison term, Jimenez was ordered to pay US$1.2 million in restitution.
Now if you think Mark was on his way down after climbing top of the social ladder in the White House, think again. He claims he met with Jesus himself while in Federal Prison. Here's the account in his own words.
LIFE IN SOLITARY
Paradoxically, Mark regarded his prison experience, particularly the time spent in isolation chambers, as the most joyous and joyful moments of his life. He turned to God. He had always felt close to God since his childhood -- living his life in accordance with the Golden Rule -- but in prison he surrendered everything to the Lord. He offered to God the anger and bitterness he felt against those who he thought had betrayed him.
Repentant, he spent his days in prayer, fasting, and meditation in the dark isolation chamber. One day, he saw a heavenly vision. With his eyes closed, he became aware of a strange light emanating from somewhere above his head. Soft celestial music from afar and scent of fresh flowers also filled his isolation room. His breath was like a mist rising up to heaven.
Gazing around, Mark saw angels coming down from heaven and carrying a shining crown, singing praises and praying for the glory of God. With them were seraphim, cherubims, and saints and they were all praying and praising God, too.
His prison became the Garden of Heaven; his bed became the Temple of God; and his pillows the Tabernacle of the Holy Spirit. Mark was filled with peace and happiness and closed his eyes. When he opened them again he saw Jesus Christ in His full splendor and magnificence, standing beside his bed. He gently touched Mark's hands and stroke his forehead;
"I have forgiven all your sins, Mark," Jesus said in a tender voice full of love. "All your transgressions, I have already paid for on the cross." Christ gently touched and closed Mark's eyes. He felt as if he was floating in space. When he opened his eyes again, Mark found himself at the foot of a stairway. An angel took his hands and they all ascended to the seemingly endless stairway. They eventually reached an altar where God was waiting.
The Lord embraced him and said, "welcome to heaven, Mark."
Every day, the vision of heaven came to him until he was released from the isolation chamber.
Recently, the former big in Florida Democratic politics has been suing his children for engaging in a "Luciferic" business conspiracy against him. Jimenez's wife has also sought the protection of the court for attempting to perform exorcism on her, among other things. This is how it ends: not with a whimper but a bang.