In the heat of last weeks discussions of the Spanish language air wars going on between the two presidential candidates, a little tidbit of info started to show up with some frequency in my in-box.
It seems that a "Hispanic" advocacy group was weighing into the fray with not only an admonishment of both candidates dirty little war of words …but an endorsement of Sen. McCain.
In fact this "grassroots" group picked up on McCain's discredited "Obama killed reform with poison pill amendments" statement as one of its chief reasons for throwing their support behind the Arizona Senator:
"It's time to turn down the rhetoric and the highly-charged television
commercials, and get down to the real facts," said Jose Nino, Co-Chairman
of the Hispanic Alliance for Prosperity Institute. "Voters deserve to know
the truth on the critical issue of immigration reform, and let the chips
fall where they may."
"While Senators John McCain and Barack Obama both have expressed their
support for the doomed bipartisan immigration reform compromise that
Congress rejected this Session, only one candidate remained true to his
commitment -- John McCain.
“Virtually every Hispanic organization from the League of United Latin-American Citizens (LULAC) to the National Council of La Raza has recognized that Sen. John McCain risked his entire political career by defying much of his Party and supporting comprehensive immigration reform, including a Guest Worker Visa program.
“Barack Obama, despite his promises of support, was absent from much of the debate on the compromise, then turned his back on the proposal, siding instead with organized labor on a series of ‘poison pill’ amendments that even his supporter, Sen. Edward Kennedy, opposed. Among the proposals Obama supported were amendments that would have cut the number of Guest Worker Visas in half, and would ultimately have killed the program after just five years.
“In the heat of the campaign, overheated rhetoric and campaign promises should never eclipse the truth – and when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform, the truth is that Sen. McCain has shown courage and leadership, while Sen. Obama, despite his promises, ultimately sided with those who oppose comprehensive reform.”
HAP Institute Press Release
I had heard the views of many of the leading Latino and pro-migrant advocacy groups who were involved in last years negotiations over reform, and knew for a fact that they were not standing by McCain's re-writing of history. I wondered exactly who this Hispanic Alliance of Prosperity (Progress) Institute was.
A quick look at their webpage showed that this was unlike any Latino advocacy group I had seen before.
I stopped first at their Take Action page to see what issues were of most concern to Latinos according to this group. …Voter registration? …. Immigration? …. Education?
The Action page leads off with an obviously old call to sign an on-line petition in support of Alberto Gonzales.
Next is an action item to contact the Texas legislature to prevent the Texas Public Utilities Commission from reviewing a utility buyout by a private investment group called Texas Energy Future.
Then there's a call to support a piece of Florida legislation deregulating telecom and broadband services.
Clicking further, the featured "action items" included a petition for more oil drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf, and a letter writing campaign in support of the Columbia Free Trade Agreement
Of course they frame these issues as crucial ones of concern to all Latinos:
As a Hispanic American consumer, I am concerned about continually rising energy costs, and realize that the cost of energy is related directly to supply.
The U.S has access to an abundant supply of domestic oil and natural gas which government has deemed “off limits” for production.
As a Hispanic American, I am keenly aware of both the benefits and challenges of America’s diplomatic and trade relationship with Latin America. This agreement will promote the long sought and elusive concept of “fair trade” and propose a win-win scenario for businesses and workers on both sides of the border. I ask that you bring the Colombian Fair Trade Agreement up for a vote this year in 2008 without any further delay.
Not exactly the usual fare at a Latino advocacy web page I thought… offshore drilling? ... telecom and utility deregulation? ... but what the hell, I figured I'd go explore a little further and look at their issues page. Perhaps there I would find a more traditional approach to advocacy.
Again, not quite
Although some of the more traditional advocacy issues were covered, for the most part, the positions taken were not exactly those of the more mainstream Latino organizations.*
Trade - (Free Trade) - " HAPI supports Free and Fair trade and believes it fosters economic benefits to U.S. businesses and U.S. consumers. …. HAPI was a key advocate and major player supporting and voicing the Pro-Business and Hispanic Pro- CAFTA positions and a leading advocate for the Colombia Free Trade Agreement currently pending before Congress."
Education- (School Choice/Vouchers/Assimilation ) - " HAPI supports empowering parents with the authority to make decisions related to the allocation of tax dollars for the education of their child and placing their children in the school best suited for the needs of the family…. Through enhanced economic and social assimilation, enhanced self sufficiency is fostered."
Immigration- (Enforcement/Guest workers) - " HAPI supports strong national security measures without jeopardizing the U.S. economy. HAPI advocates for a balance that will accommodate both critical interests. A vital component of legislation should include a guest worker program that is realistic to deploy"
Media, Technology, Information Platforms (Deregulation) - " HAPI believes that the enhanced use of media, technology and information applications must be included in a 21st Century Hispanic agenda. …HAPI supports regulatory environments that ensure consumer access and affordability to these platforms and supports products and services that best serve the needs of the community."
Homes and Communities - (Ownership Society) – "HAPI supports ownership society tenets vital for asset creation, and ensuring access to affordable housing. Research validates the connection between housing stability as a cornerstone to family stability."
OK, this was not what I expected from an advocacy group. Since when is telecom and broadband deregulation a top issue on anyone's issue list, outside of possibly those who own them?
A little more checking around found some other odd activities from the Hispanic Alliance for Progress.
For instance, in 2005 they organized a rally in support of controversial Judge, Priscilla Owen in her bid to get a Supreme Court nomination.
In 2004 they sponsored a "Hispanic Safety and Health Summit" with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and OSHA that was boycotted by every major worker safety advocacy organization, labor group, and Hispanic organization because they claimed it was organized by the Bush Administration as a blatant election year play for Hispanic votes.
In their letter to OSHA, members of the Coalition for Hispanic Worker Safety noted that the conference was organized with virtually no input from major Hispanic advocacy organizations or grassroots worker groups. “This is clearly not a serious effort to address the epidemic of workplace injuries and illnesses suffered by our community,” said Jayesh Rathod, Staff Attorney of CASA of Maryland. Planners chose not to invite groups like ours because they knew we would raise serious concerns about the administration’s dismantling of workplace safety rules,” Rathod added.
So who exactly who is this "grassroots Hispanic advocacy group" now endorsing John McCain?
From Right Wing Watch:
The Hispanic Alliance for Progress Institute (HAPI) claims to be a grassroots organization but its Board of Advisors and Policy Board are made up of high-level Republican political operatives with deep ties to various Republican administrations. As part of the "National Coalition To End Judicial Filibusters," HAPI— in conjunction with the Committee for Justice, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, James Dobson's Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and others— supported the use of the so-called "nuclear option" to eliminate Senator's ability to filibuster against President George W. Bush's right-wing judicial nominees.
… its Board of Advisors and Policy Board are made up of high-level Republican political operatives with deep ties to Republican administrations (Reagan, Bush I and Bush II). HAPI's boards are composed almost entirely of Republican players, including lobbyists, donors, and political appointees.(Chairman, Manuel) Lujan and his former boss, President George H.W. Bush, launched the organization at a 2004 gala in New York City.
And that Board of Advisors and Policy Board ….. Who is it made up of?
Hon. Manuel Lujan, Jr., New Mexico
CONGRESIONAL ADVISORY BOARD
Congressman Joe Barton, TX
Congressman Henry Bonilla, TX
Congressman John Boehner, OH
Senator Richard Burr, NC
Congressman Ken Calvert, TX
Senator Saxby Chambliss, GA
Congressman Tom Cole, OK
Senator John Cornyn, TX
Senator Pete Domenici, NM
Congressman Elton Gallegly, CA
Congressman Louis Gohmert, TX
Congressman Doc Hastings, WA
Congressman Jeb Hensarling, TX
Congressman Darrell Issa, CA
Senator John Kyl, AZ
Congressman Jerry Lewis, CA
Senator Mel Martinez, FL
Congressman Gary Miller, CA
Congressman Michael Oxley, OH
Congressman Steve Pearce, NM
Congressman Pete Sessions, TX
Congressman Heather Wilson, NM
BOARD OF ADVISORS
Mr. Adrian Arriaga, Texas
Ms. Rosemary Barbour, Mississippi
Mr. George P. Bush, Texas
Mr. Jose Canchola, Arizona
Mr. Pedro Celis, PH. D., Washington
Mr. Lupe Cruz, California
Hon. Patricia Diaz Dennis, Texas
Hon. Robert A. Estrada, Texas
Mrs. Grace Flores-Hughes
Hon. Lou Gallegos, New Mexico
Hon. Raul A. Gonzalez, Texas
Mr. Abel Guerra, Florida
Hon. Jimmy Gurule, Indiana
Mr. Steve Gutierrez, Michigan
Dr. Venicio Madrigal, Louisiana
Ms. Margaret Martin, Texas
Mr. Jacob Monty, Texas
Mr. Jose Nino, Maryland
Mrs. Rita Nunez, New Mexico
Hon. Robert Pacheco, California
Mr. Cesar Remond, Illinios
Mr. Louis Sanchez, Florida
Mr. Rudy Sandoval, Texas
Mr. Jerry Silva, California
Dr. Josh Valdez, California
Mr. Massey Villareal, Texas
HON. Ted Cruz, Texas, Chairman
Mr. Juan Carlos Benitez, DC
Mr. Victor Cabral, DC
Mr. Troop Coronado, CA
Mrs. Ann Costello, DC
Ms. Raquel Egusquiza, DC
Mr. Henry Gandy, DC
Mr. Mike Hernandez, Texas
Mrs. Bobbie Kilberg, Virginia
Ms. Laura Lawlor, Texas
Mr. Glenn Lemunyon, DC
Mr. Joseph Samora, DC
Mrs. Leslie Sanchez, DC
Mr. Scott Styles, Virginia
CORPORATE BOARD MEMBERS
Bank of America
AIG (American International Group)
Information Technology Industry Council
Goldman, Sachs & Co.
Altria Group, Inc.
American Petroleum Institute
Case New Holland
National Association of Manufacturers
National Association of Realtors
Can you say …ATSROTURF?
* (note …this organization has two web pages running at the same time, with two different URLs and slightly different content…it also operates under two different names: Hispanic Alliance for Progress and the Hispanic Alliance for Prosperity ...not exactly a surprise)