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A new report has unveiled links between campaign contributions and votes on sanctions against Cuba.

Supporters of the U.S. embargo against Cuba have contributed almost $11 million to members of Congress since 2004 in a largely successful effort to block efforts to weaken sanctions against the island, a new report shows.

In several cases, according to the report by the nonpartisan group Public Campaign, members of Congress who had supported easing sanctions against Cuba changed their positions -- and then got donations from the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee and its donors.

All told, the political action committee that champions the embargo and its contributors have given $10.77 million nationwide to almost 400 candidates and members of Congress, the report says.

The contributions include more than $850,000 to 53 House Democrats who earlier this month sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi opposing any change to U.S.-Cuba policy. The average signer, the report says, received $16,344.

The top five recipients of the cash: Miami's three Cuban-American Republican members of Congress; 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain; and New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, a Democrat, whose parents fled Cuba before his birth.

The report comes as defenders of the embargo fend off efforts to repeal the decades-old ban against U.S. travel to Cuba.

Proponents of greater engagement with Cuba contend they have the votes for a change.

A hearing on the issue is set for Thursday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The report says at least 18 House members received campaign contributions from the PAC or its donors and then switched to opposing efforts to soften the embargo.

Source: The Miami Herald

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