Man Behind "Don't Vote" Ad Has Long Record As GOP Operative

October 21, 2010 1:30 pm ET

Latinos for Reform, a shadowy 527 group led by Robert Garcia de Posada, is behind an ad that encourages Latinos not to vote in the upcoming midterm elections. "This November we need to send a message to all politicians," the ad proclaims. "If they didn't keep their promise on immigration reform, then they can't count on our vote." A statement on the group's website accuses Democrats of betraying Hispanic voters, charging that Democrats have had ample opportunity to pass comprehensive immigration reform, but have "intentionally undermined even the smallest of reform efforts." But Posada isn't a progressive proponent of immigration reform. He's a longtime GOP operative with connections to both the Republican National Committee and corporate special interests.

Latinos For Reform: "Don't Vote"

Ad Blasted By Latino Groups, Pulled By Univision

Univision Has Refused To Run Ad Urging Hispanics Not To Vote.  According to the Washington Post, "A Republican-backed ad campaign urging Hispanics not to vote next month has been yanked by a radio station following a protest led by Nevada Democrats.  Univision told The Associated Press on Tuesday the spot was pulled from its Las Vegas Spanish-language radio station Tuesday shortly after its debut.  Univision also says it will not run a companion ad on its Spanish-language TV broadcasting network and will continue to encourage Hispanics to vote." [Washington Post, 10/19/10]

Ad Has Been Denounced By Latino Coalition, Group De Posada Helped Found.  According to the group's website, "The Latino Coalition strongly opposes such a message, and also criticizes Latinos for Reform for the inaccurate translation of the spot into Spanish. 'We are saddened that Latinos for Reform has opted to use this tactic, that can't be seen as anything other than an attempt to suppress Latino voter turnout in these upcoming elections. If positive changes have been attained for Latinos-and many other groups - in our country, they have largely been achieved by active participation, not passive viewing from the sidelines.'" [The Latino Coalition, 10/19/10]

League Of United Latin American Citizens Condemned De Posada's "Voter Suppression Efforts."  A statement by LULAC, the largest and oldest Hispanic membership organization in the country, condemned the ad.  "A cynical ad funded by the conservative group Latinos for Reform is running a new Spanish language ad in Nevada and California encouraging Latinos not to vote in the upcoming elections. LULAC and other Latino organizations are outraged over these ads and applaud Univision for declining to run the ad." [LULAC, 10/19/10]

De Posada Is A Longtime GOP Operative

De Posada Is A Longtime GOP Operative.  According to Talking Points Memo, "In 1994, according to de Posada, he helped create the Hispanic Business Roundtable, which later became the Latino Coalition, where he was president until 2007. He served as co-director with Dick Armey on Americans for Border and Economic Security, on George W. Bush's Social Security Commission, and as director of Hispanic affairs at the Republican National Committee until becoming disgruntled with the GOP and settling into conservative advocacy." [TPM, 10/19/10]

Leadership Of Latino Coalition Closely Tied To Republican National Committee.  As reported by the Orange County Register, "'We debated it among ourselves. Should we do it or are we wasting our time?' said Robert de Posada, president of the Washington-based Latino Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group that claims 15,000 members nationwide, mainly from the business community. Leaders of the group, whose board of directors includes at least half a dozen businessmen from Orange County, are known for their strong ties to the Republican National Committee. Their Republican connections help the group gain entry to the White House, although it has not forged ties to longtime immigrant advocates." [Orange County Register, 5/1/03, accessed via Nexis; emphasis added]

Group's P.O. Box Registered To Woman Behind Swift Boat Veterans For Truth.  According to New York Magazine, "The website for Latinos for Reform lists its address as a P.O. box manned by Susan Arceneaux, a player in the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, but De Posada says that's a mistake." [New York Magazine, 10/19/10]

  • Arceneaux Served As Treasurer Of Dick Armey's PAC.  According to the New York Times, "Records also list Ms. Arceneaux as treasurer of the Majority Leader's Fund, a political action committee affiliated with the former House majority leader, Dick Armey of Texas, which like the Swift Boat Veterans received significant financing from Bob Perry, a Texan who has long supported Mr. Bush."  [New York Times, 8/25/04, accessed via Nexis]

De Posada: Talking About Immigration Helps Democrats.  A story in the Denver Post quoted de Posada saying, "When you have a president that is friendly on immigration, then the immigration issue becomes a nonissue...Now by changing the issue back to immigration, I think it is nothing but helpful to Democrats." [Denver Post, 9/20/02, accessed via Nexis]

During 2004 Presidential Campaign, De Posada Advised Hispanics To Vote For Bush.  According to The Plain Dealer:

Latinos heard from both the Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns on Saturday in a bipartisan debate by leaders of their community.

Republican Robert De Posada, president of the Latino Coalition of Washington, D.C., defended the policies of President Bush as he told the audience how vital their vote was on Tuesday.

De Posada, a Bush adviser, pointed out that both parties are vying for the Hispanic vote for the first time, but he said Bush has a history with Latinos. [The Plain Dealer, 10/31/04, accessed via Nexis]

De Posada Aligned With Anti-Health Care Reform Group.  Despite advocating on behalf of health care, de Posada joined the group Coalition Against Guaranteed Issue, which was against "forcing insurance companies to issue anyone a policy regardless of their health" and founded by Council for Affordable Health Insurance [Coalition Against Guaranteed Issue, 1/12/03, accessed via Nexis]

  • Industry Group Behind Coalition Against Guaranteed Issue.  According to the group's website, "CAHI's membership includes insurance companies, small businesses, providers, nonprofit associations, actuaries, insurance brokers and individuals. Since 1992, CAHI has been an active advocate for market-oriented solutions to the problems in America's health care system." [Council for Affordable Health Insurance, accessed 10/20/10]

De Posada Advised Republicans On Senate Judiciary Committee.  According to the Sun-Sentinel, "'A lot of Republicans are worried that [fighting the Sotomayor nomination] could be the last straw when it comes to the party's ability to reach the Hispanic community,' said Robert de Posada, a Hispanic Republican strategist who said he is advising Republican staff aides on the Senate Judiciary Committee. 'Republicans are in a very awkward position.'" [Sun-Sentinel, 5/27/09, accessed via Nexis]

De Posada Planned To Attack Democrats For Failing To Bring About Immigration Reform.  According to the Sun-Sentinel:

Then, De Posada said, if Obama does not act this year on his campaign promise to pass a legalization program for millions of undocumented immigrants, Republicans could make the case to Latinos that the president failed to deliver on their main issues.

"They would have grounds to go to the Hispanic community and say, 'Yes it's great to have a Hispanic justice, but on the most important and immediate issue that you care about, you're being ignored,'" De Posada said. "That's an opening for Republicans."

[Sun-Sentinel, 5/27/09, accessed via Nexis]

De Posada Has Used Race As A Political Wedge

De Posada Alleged That Miguel Estrada Was Not Confirmed Because He Is Hispanic.  According to the Associated Press:

Some Hispanic organizations criticized Democrats for waiting since May 2001 to bring Estrada up for a hearing and promised to organize against Democrats if he loses.

"We will not stand by quietly and let them massacre one of our own," said Robert De Posada of the Latino Coalition. Pointing out that two black judges have been confirmed to the U.S. Appeals Court this year, "Is the message here that the Democratic Party is sending that they have a favorite minority group?" he said. "Any opposition to this, we're going to be taking it personally." [Associated Press, 9/24/02, accessed via Nexis]

De Posada: Sen. Menendez Hasn't Faced Discrimination Because He Looks White.  According to Slate's Dahlia Lithwick, "Robert de Posada, the president of the Latino Coalition, a Washington policy group that supports Estrada, told reporters last week that the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund only opposes Estrada because he is not from Mexico, which is where they believe the first Hispanic Supreme Court justice ought to come from. De Posada also had some choice words for Robert Menendez, one of the congressional Democrats who opposes Estrada. "Menendez" he said, "is a Cuban-American who looks completely white. I wonder: Has he faced the racism and isolation that other Hispanics have faced?" This, then, is what the discussion has come to: a battle about who is Hispanic enough to warrant the racial preferences that most Americans oppose in the first place." [Slate, 2/27/03]

De Posada: Republicans Should Go After Non-English Speakers Before Democrats Get Them.  According to the Washington Times, "Latino Coalition Pres. Robert de Posada: It's the newcomers, the non-English speakers, that the Republicans should be going after before the Democrats get them." [Washington Times, 8/20/02, accessed via Nexis]

Latinos For Reform Attacked Then-Senator Obama, Accused Him Of Putting Blacks Ahead Of Hispanics.  In a press release put out before the 2008 presidential elections, the group alleged:

"If a Republican candidate would tell reporters that Latino political power cannot come at the expense of White Americans, the mainstream media would demand an explanation. And to add insult to injury, if that candidate would have a history of not hiring any Latinos to senior positions in his legislative offices and then had the guts to oppose trade with Mexico, Central America and Colombia while supporting free trade with an impoverished right wing dictatorship, the mainstream media would, without a doubt, label that candidate a bigot.

"Well, Barack Obama did all of the above. He has never hired a Latino to a senior position, opposes trade with these Latin American countries while supporting free trade with Africa, and told the Chicago Defender newspaper that Latino political power cannot come at the expense of African Americans. So where's the inquisitive independent media?

"Barack Obama had an opportunity to explain this troubling history with Latinos and the media has an obligation to address these issues. How can an elected official in Chicago explain why he has never hired a senior Latino in a city with over a million Latino residents?

"Why didn't Obama explain his statement that he opposes trade with Mexico, Central America and Colombia because of poor labor and environmental standards and because of human rights abuses, while supporting free trade with Africa? Is Obama insinuating that labor and environmental standards in Africa are better than in Latin America? Does he truly believe that human rights abuses in Latin America are worse than those in Africa? Please Mr. Obama, this is an insult to every American of Hispanic descent.
[Latinos for Reform via PR Newswire, 9/30/08]

FactCheck.Org Labeled The Accusations Highly Misleading.  According to the nonpartisan FactCheck.org, "The ad goes on to misleadingly claim that Obama 'has opposed free trade with Mexico, Central America and Colombia, yet supports free trade with Africa.' What Obama has said is that he'd like to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement to include more protections for workers and the environment, not that we shouldn't have such an agreement with Mexico or other countries south of the border. In fact, the ad neglects to say that he supported the free trade agreement with Peru, applauding the agreement's labor provisions. As the Council on Foreign Relations puts it: Obama 'generally supports free trade policies, though he has expressed concern about free trade agreements that do not include labor and environmental protections.'" [FactCheck.org, 9/30/08]

Latinos For Reform Accused Obama Of Abetting His Aunt's Illegal Immigration Status.  According to a press release before the 2008 presidential elections: "'We have no doubts that Senator Obama is once again hiding the truth from the American people when it comes to the story of his aunt,' said LFR Chairman Robert Deposada. 'For crying out loud, everyone would agree that when people in other countries have relatives in government, it is a common practice to contact them for assistance when they have a problem. She knew she had a powerful Senator as her nephew, considering that she attended his swearing-in ceremony in the Senate. And this was not a traffic ticket we're talking about. She was ordered to leave the country by an immigration judge. So you can rest assure [sic] that she did contact him.'" [Latinos for Reform via PR Newswire, 11/1/08]

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