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Editor’s Note: One thing that you learn, as you traverse the political roads of this country, is that pretty much nobody outside of OC but the most ardent political observers even knows who Rep. Ed Royce is. Royce may be a bigfoot when it comes to North and West Orange County, but he gets relatively little attention nationally.
This year, that’s changing. Howie Klein of the venerable political blog “Down with Tyranny” — on the web literally since the year 2000 — recently wrote a piece on the CA-39 race. In the meaningless primary, Royce spent over $2,000,000 — 33 times as much as his opponent Jay Chen’s $60,000 – in hopes of piling up a victory big enough to convince people that Chen doesn’t have a chance against him. Unfortunately for Royce, Chen already has $350,000 in the bank for the general election — and people are noticing that Chen could very well knock off Royce once their election spending is no longer so lopsided.
This guest column from Howie Klein addresses one big reason why: Royce is an anti-immigrant thunderer … who has just been redrawn into a majority-minority district! Here’s Howie! — G.D.
Blue America is in the final stages of endorsing a young California Democrat– and another People For the American Way YEO (like our candidates Matt Heinz in Arizona and Nate Shinagawa in New York)– Jay Chen. We first introduced him in May and he’s been working hard to take a race the DCCC seems unaware of and make it into a real contest– with a powerful Republican incumbent, Wall Street pawn Ed Royce, who is suddenly very vulnerable.
There’s a real battle brewing for the 39th CD, a district far less likely than his old Orange County heartland to support an anti-immigrant fanatic who exists to service banksters. Royce had taken on the persona of a chest-thumping teabagger to please OC Neanderthals but now finds himself in a new district full of the same minorities he has been trying to disenfranchise for decades. Schadenfreude will be sweet in November. In Royce’s old 40th CD, McCain took 51% in 2008. McCain only took 49% under the new 39th district’s boundaries, where Royce looks like an odd duck. The district includes the cities of Brea, Buena Park, Chino Hills, Diamond Bar, Fullerton, Hacienda Heights, La Habra, La Habra Heights, Placentia, Rowland Heights, Walnut, and Yorba Linda. Approximately 30% of the voters are Hispanic, and another 30% are Asian. For Royce, this means a rapid recalculation of the stances that have made him popular behind the deeply conservative orange curtain.
Royce has made a name for himself in the last two decades as one of Congress’ most reliable anti-immigrant votes, right up there with the vicious freakshow led by racist hatemongers like Steve King (R-IA), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA). In fact, he was ranked a top ten legislator by NumbersUSA, a rabidly anti-immigrant Hate Group that wants to bring immigration levels down to pre-1965 levels.
Almost every year Royce co-sponsors a bill requiring all federal services to be English-only. The bills always fail, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to prove his nasty, xenophobic point year after year, or to show the Know Nothings he caters to that he’s one of them.
While stumping for the latest English-only bill, Royce railed against multi-language ballots: “Now think for a minute about the resources that go into [multi-language ballots] that instead could be deployed in order to teach young people English… and how much simpler that would be, in the balloting process and everything else, if English was the official language.”
For a ten-term congressman, Royce is incredibly clueless about how budgets work. Money for multilingual ballots can’t simply be removed and placed into education, and there are already programs in place to teach people English. It’s called school. Ironically, Royce’s bill is correct in that this would make things simpler. With English-only ballots fewer people would vote– especially minorities and English learners. And that is probably exactly what Royce and his crowd are aiming for.
Last year, Royce was also all over the airwaves trying to make SB 1070, Arizona’s controversial “Show me your papers” bill, a federal law. The law gives police officers the right to stop anybody and question their immigration status. It would legalize racial profiling and is meant by right-wing Republicans as a way of hassling and humiliating immigrants so that they, in Mitt Romney’s words, “self-deport.”
Royce hasn’t just introduced bills to reduce minority rights; he has tried to repeal one of the most important bills of all, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In 2007 he joined a small extremist faction representing a mere 6% of Congress that voted against the bipartisan decision to extend the act, the cornerstone of the civil rights movement.
Who is financing this hate-mongering? Royce, who has taken in $12,413,016 in campaign contributions since 1989– most in legalistic bribes from the insurance industry, the real estate industry and Wall Street (his top 3 career-long sources of funds)– is still sucking up the bribes this year. For the current cycle, the Credit Union National Association, Bank of America, Well Fargo, UBS and JPMorgan Chase are his 5 top donors… five predatory shameless corporations who don’t mind underwriting bigotry and hatred as long as they have a congressman in their pockets well-placed to oppose consumer protection legislation– which just happens to be Royce’s specialty on the House Financial Services Committee.
Royce also runs his own shady political action committee, which he uses to buy the loyalty of other Republicans less well-connected to Wall Street banksters. This cycle the $167,977 he’s handed out to other right-wing immigrant haters (like Lou Barletta, Brian Bilbray, Mike Coffman, Frank Guinta, Bill Huizenga, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Dan Lungren, Gary Miller, Steve Stivers and, of course, Allen West) comes in large part from $10,000 bribes the PAC received from the Credit Union National Association, Deloitte and Touche, Experian, Investment Co Institute, Lockheed Martin, Northwestern Mutual Life and UBS.
In Congress, Royce hides his antipathy towards immigrants through bills that have no hope of passage. In February of 2011, however, his true colors came out. At an Orange County fundraiser for battered women and the homeless, organized by the Islamic Circle of North America, a viral video captured the anti-Muslim hate rally that formed to harass the fundraiser participants. Protesters screamed at Muslim-American families and children to “go home” while local politicians encouraged violence against the participants.
Royce was one of several local officials who spoke in support of the event, and instead of calming the crowd, incited violence, egged it on with premeditated attacks on diversity:
“A big part of the problem we face today is that our children have been taught in schools that every idea is right, that no one should criticize others’ positions, no matter how odious– and what do we call that? They call it multiculturalism it has paralyzed too many of our fellow citizens to make the critical judgments we need to make.”
I wonder what he thinks of the Texas Republican Party’s official position on making the teaching of critical thinking in public schools illegal. Clearly, some critical judgments do need to be made, the chief among them is whether a man who holds such extremist views against the diversity that makes this country great deserves to represent the richly, proudly diverse 39th Congressional District of California.
We think not– another reason we’re backing Jay Chen to replace Royce. This week we saw another explosion of this kind of divisive hatred in the Michele Bachmann scandal with her vicious McCarthyism against State Department official Houma Abedin. With more respectable GOP leaders like Boehner, Rubio and McCain denouncing Bachmann for her McCarthyism and racism, Royce is laying low on this one. We did contact Jay though and asked him about his feelings on this disgraceful behavior by Royce’s allies in Congress:
“It’s clear that Huma Abedin, as a key advisor to the Department of State, has provided years of dedication and wise counsel to American diplomacy. Allegations of her relations with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood are unsubstantiated attacks on a woman who has provided nothing but service to this country, and are no more than political fundraising tools for Tea Partier and former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann… This is an attack on our nation’s foundational principles of tolerance and cultural inclusiveness. When standing members of Congress seek to call into question a service member’s loyalty to this country simply because of their ethnicity and religion, they threaten the core freedoms that make this country great.”
For those who have forgotten Royce’s speech at the famous Deborah Pauly Yorba Linda rally:
Click through to Howie Klein’s original article to follow more links.