California’s Latino Legislative Caucus is operated with state government funding, and has an official website that is paid for by California taxpayers. The Caucus does not identify itself as a partisan organization beholden to either Democrats or Republicans. Its legislative activities are also managed by legislature employees. So it’s far more than a club. Taxpayers pay for it.
SACRAMENTO — The California Legislature’s Latino Caucus boasts on its website that its mission “is to identify, promote and advocate on behalf of the professional, educational, social, political and cultural interests of the Latino community.” Who can argue with that?
So after winning a seat to the Assembly in 2012 representing northern San Diego County, Rocky Chávez decided to sign up and see what he can contribute. Education tops the group’s legislative priority list, and it tops Chávez’s also. He spent years operating a charter school.
“I said, ‘Hey, so when do we meet and how does this happen?’”, Chávez said in an interview on Thursday. “They said, ‘You’re not invited.’ I go, ‘Why would I not be invited?’” The obvious reason is that Chávez is a Republican, although he was never given an official explanation.
In a recent statement commemorating Cesar Chavez Day, the caucus urged all Californians to live up to Cesar Chavez’s example of “treating each other with dignity and respect, no matter their background.” It didn’t say, “unless one’s background is in the Republican Party.”
Chávez was a career Marine, served as California’s Veterans Affairs Secretary, has business experience, and has operated a charter school for years. He could bring a lot to the Latino Legislative Caucus. Rather than own up to their taxpayer-funded intolerance, Democrats double down on it. They have long held a double standard in which they believe it is perfectly acceptable to keep Miguel Estrada off the courts “because he is a Latino,” and because he is a Republican. A similar thinking is at work against Rocky Chávez. Democrats fear Latino Republicans because they pose a serious threat to their own race-based power within the Democratic Party. They can fear that all they want, but they cross a line when they wield taxpayer dollars to enforce their partisanship, as the Latino Legislative Caucus is clearly doing here.
The Republican National Committee hasn’t missed this story. RNC spokesman Izzy Santa notes, “For all the talk Democrats do about equality, it is clear they are more interested in using tax payer dollars to play political charades than allowing Mr. Chavez the opportunity to provide his constituents equal representation in the statehouse.”
Democrats are free to form their own clubs and support them with their own money and staff if they want. But when they obtain taxpayer support, they have an obligation to play fair.