Monday, October 18, 2010

Latinos for Reform: Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

Update 10/19/2010: Robert Deposada, the man behind Latinos for Reform, gave an interview with TPM which clarified some more things: 1) that Deposada co-directed Americans for Border and Economic Security with Dick Armey. 2) With respect to the infamous P.O. box mentioned below, Deposada said it was a mistake on the website but then digs himself in deeper as he tries to clarify the matter: "'In 2008, because the laws were so strange, we hired a political compliance company that handled our reporting and accounting.' That was Arceneaux, and during that time the group used her PO Box." A plausible explanation, I'm sure. We stand by our conclusion that this group is all about an electoral victory for the Republican Party and doesn't give a hoot about immigrants.

¡Ojo, hermanos y hermanas!

Rebel Girl was looking at the news today and noticed a press release from a group calling itself Latinos for Reform. According to the press release:

Latinos for Reform announced today the launch of a national ad campaign in targeted states urging Latino voters not to vote for Members of Congress that have failed to deliver on their immigration reform promises. The ads, in both English and Spanish, are available at

"It's an election year, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised to hear promises about immigration reform," said LFR President Robert Deposada. "What is surprising, however, is that these politicians really believe that they can continue to make these same promises during every campaign season without ever delivering on them – and that we continue to allow it."...

Hmmmm...Well, of course we don't want to vote for people who have let our community down...sounds so reasonable and innocuous. So Rebel Girl goes to visit the website to see who these people are and to view the ads (English version above). Funny....their ads don't say anything about not voting for Republicans, who haven't done anything for immigrants either (maybe because they never promised to do anything in the first place since most of their constituency would like to deport anyone who wasn't born here and quite a few who were too). It's all about the Democrats. I wonder why?

So Rebel Girl asks herself: Who are these people? The website carries a standard disclaimer but all it will tell you is: "Paid for by Latinos for Reform. Latinos for Reform authorized the content of this message. It has not been authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. Contributions or gifts to Latinos for Reform are not deductible as charitable contributions for Federal income tax purposes." Of course not.. because this is just another right-wing 527.

They've been around at least since the 2008 presidential elections when they put out blatant race-baiting anti-Obama ads in Spanish, according to NPR which ran an English translation of part of the ad:

Barack Obama a friend of the Latino community? The record demonstrates the opposite. Did you know that after the 2000 census that showed a tremendous growth of Latinos in Chicago, Obama told reporters in Chicago that while everyone agrees that the Hispanic population has grown, they cannot expand by taking power from the African-American community. You heard right...but there's more. Did you know that Obama has never hired a Latino to a senior position in his office throughout his legislative career? Did you know that Obama has opposed trade with Mexico, Central America and Colombia, yet supports free trade with Africa?

You get the idea. No other information available but guess what? Latinos for Reform's PO box 26366 in Alexandria, Virginia has been shared by a whole series of right-wing PACs: American Spirit Fund, Virginia Liberty Fund, Storm Chasers, and American Liberty PAC -- all with the same treasurer, Susan Arceneaux, a well-connected member of the Republican Party and a long-time aide to Rep. Dick Armey. Remember the infamous Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? Ms. Arceneaux was also associated with them and the now-defunct Admiral Roy F. Hoffmann Foundation, which just happens to have the same address and PO box as Ms. Arceneaux's collection of PACs and as Latinos for Reform, gave hundreds of thousands of dollars to Swift Boat Vets. Would you trust any group using that PO box number to be objective and concerned about your interests?

As to the group's funding, there is no information yet available for 2010 but during the 2008 cycle, the biggest contributors to Latinos for Reform were John T Finn of Redondo Beach, CA, son of a prominent pro-life family, who gave $45,000, underwriting the anti-Obama ad mentioned above in several markets, Frank Dudenhefer, a personal injury lawyer from New Orleans who heavily funded Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and then switched his support to McCain/Palin in the general election, and Rogelio Fernandez of Fresh Meadows, NY, a pharmacy owner and previous small-time Republican contributor. Dudenhefer and Fernandez each gave $10,000.

As for Robert Deposada, who put $3,000 himself into Latinos for Reform in 2008, he has worked for the Hispanic Business Roundtable and The Latino Coalition, both of which are intimately linked to corporate interests and the Republican Party. Mr. Deposada was formerly director of Hispanic affairs for the Republican National Committee and in 2001served on President Bush's commission to advance the administration's plan for privatizing Social Security. The hermano's Facebook page says he likes the "Tea Party Patriots", which tells you which wing of the Republican Party presently has his allegiance. He has also personally donated substantial amounts of money, almost entirely to Republican candidates. So perhaps you wonder how those organizations stand on immigration reform? Funny you should ask.

The Latino Coalition's "Advocacy" area under "Immigration" yielded only an old action item opposing U.S. regulations on Mexican truckers. However, in 2008 they issued a press release on the issue that reads:

The Latino Coalition applauds Senators John McCain and Barack Obama for talking about immigration reform. However, the fact is that Senator McCain has demonstrated real leadership in addressing this highly controversial issue.

Senator McCain risked his political career to find a comprehensive solution to our nation's complex immigration problem. He has demonstrated a commitment to secure the border, create a guest worker program and to treat immigrants with respect and dignity.

On the other hand, Senator Obama sided against bipartisan immigration reform legislation and instead with narrow, special interests intent on killing efforts to find real solutions.

We hope that the next president and Congress will put away the rhetoric and act to fix our broken immigration system. Thanks to the efforts of Senator McCain, a foundation has been laid for meaningful reform. It is in the best interest of our nation, society and economy to complete the job.

As for the Hispanic Business Roundtable, their record on immigration is just as sketchy. They did endorse H.R. 2202, Immigration in the National Interest Act back in 1996. The bill and its Senate counterpart passed in a heavily partisan vote by the Republican majority. The legislation was subsequently vetoed by President Clinton.

Now let's look at la numero dos in Latinos for Reform, Ms. Naomi Lopez-Bauman, a long time colleague of Mr. Deposada. She is a self-employed policy expert who has been associated with a number of libertarian think tanks over the years including the Cato Institute, the Pacific Research Institute and the Pelican Institute. We don't know much about her position on immigration. She has opposed statehood for Puerto Rico and is co-author of a 2000 report on the medically uninsured in Texas which blames government policy of providing some forms of health care even for the uninsured, even for undocumented immigrants, for the fact that 24 percent of Texans are medically uninsured. As someone with some graduate level education in health administration, I'm left speechless by this conclusion.

In conclusion, do these sound like people who really care about whether or not American politicians are keeping any promises to the Latino community about immigration reform? Or are they just trying to keep Latinos at home who might otherwise turn out and vote Democratic? They don't care about you or real immigration reform. All they care about are their Republican cronies.

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