Where is the proof that Cecilia Iglesias is involved in a Republican Party plot?

Cecilia Iglesias poses with State Senator Lou Correa

There is an incredible amount of hullabaloo being made about Ms. Cecilia Iglesias, an Independent candidate running in the 47th Congressional District, because an image of her was caught in a photograph squeezing Meg Whitman, the mega-billionaire who thinks she can use her vast fortune to buy her way into the Governor’s office.

Frank Barbaro, Chairman of the Democratic Party of Orange County, recently stated in an email posted on the DPOC website that “voting records show that Ceci walks like a Republican, talks like a Republican and votes as a Republican…. I think she needs to explain why she is so embarrassed about being a Republican.”

Although I’ve thought about casting my ballot for Ms. Iglesias as a protest vote against both Loretta Sanchez and Van Tran, the photograph of her hugging Whitmann almost made me throw up, to be quite frank with you. But honestly, I would have felt just as nauseous if I saw a photograph of her with Jerry Brown.

Despite my dislike for “Queen Meg,” I’m smart enough to realize the photograph doesn’t mean that Ms. Iglesias supports or even agrees with her on various issues. And so far I haven’t heard Mr. Barbaro complain about the fact she posed for the above photograph with Democratic State Senator Lou Correa.

There are some incredibly nasty rumors being spread about Ms. Iglesias being involved in some kind of secret Republican Party vote-splitting plot. Although it wouldn’t surprise me if this in fact were the case, I haven’t seen a shred of court-worthy evidence anywhere to suggest that any of these allegations have any truth to them.

And I don’t buy the argument that because Ms. Iglesias was registered to vote in the Republican Party a few years ago means there is something evil and sinister with her switching to “decline to state” and running as an Independent candidate in the 47th Congressional District. That’s her constitutional right to do so.

It is completely hypocritical for Mr. Barbaro to attack Ms. Iglesias on this issue given that another candidate who sought the same seat back in 1996, Loretta Sanchez, was formerly a Republican. She only switched her party affiliation to “Democratic” shortly before mounting her run against former Republican Congressman Bob Dornan.

In fact, if you want to talk about a real “conspiracy,” there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt to show that Congresswoman Sanchez at times during her 14 year political career has had a very cozy–if not incestuous relationship–with local Republican Party politicians and has helped them advance legislation that hurt her own community.

In 1997, Congresswoman Sanchez worked very closely with Bob Zemel and Tom Tait, two very right-wing Anaheim City Councilmen, to get the federal government to fund a “pilot program” to station then-Immigration and Naturalization Service agents in the Anaheim City jail to screen detainees for their immigration status.

Zemel and Tait originally approached former Republican Congressman Bob Dornan and asked him to secure additional funding. But Dornan refused to have anything to do with it. After Sanchez got elected, she took off with their ball and ran with it. She co-signed a letter with other top Republican Party politicians to get them the money.

Not only were Zemel and Tait then-members of the Central Committee of the Orange County Republican Party, but the latter owns an engineering consulting company called Tait and Associates, Inc. in Orange. One of his employees at that time was–and still is–Tom Fuentes, then-Chairman of the Orange County Republican Party.

One consequence of this “pilot program” was that undocumented workers who had no prior criminal records were being arrested by Anaheim Police for committing minor traffic offenses and then deported shortly after INS agents had screened them in jail. Costa Mesa Mayor Alan Mansoor used the same program as a model for his own city.

Until I see hard evidence to prove Ms. Iglesias was involved in a vote-splitting plot, I’m going to defend her right to run as an Independent candidate. Methinks the real problem here is that Democratic Party bigwigs are upset that the polls are showing that Sanchez is going to lose her seat; so they’re setting up Ms. Iglesias as a scapegoat.

The vicious attacks that Mr. Barbaro and his allies in the Democratic Party are making against Ms. Iglesias are also leading me to believe they don’t like the fact a woman they can’t control had the initiative to overcome enormous odds and acquire the required number of signatures she needed to get on the ballot to run as an Independent in this race.

If the Congresswoman gets booted out of office, she only has herself to blame; it will be because she lost her base of support–not because Ms. Iglesias was in the race. There is widespread discontent with Sanchez in the 47th Congressional District and many of her former supporters are not going to show up at the ballot box in November.

Given the great dissatisfaction there is with the Congresswoman, it doesn’t surprise me that a woman of El Salvadoran ancestory–part of a growing community in Santa Ana whose members may not feel they are being adequately served by Sanchez–decided to run as an Independent candidate. This not a new phenomena in American history.

The same thing occured in the late 19th century as Eastern European immigrants began to settle in the Northeastern United States. As their communities grew, they challenged the political dominance of the ethnic groups who had assimilated before them–primarily the Irish–by running candidates against them under different party labels.

Personally, I would prefer to have dozens of candidates running in the 47th Congressional District. Then I could chose the candidate I feel best reflects my own views on matters of politics. Neither Congresswoman Sanchez or her Republican Party opponents ever do. That’s why I’ve always left the boxes next to their names empty when I cast my absentee ballot.

So until Mr. Barbaro and his allies come up with court-worthy evidence to prove that a plot has occurred, I strongly urge everybody to dismiss the claims they are making about Ms. Iglesias as being nothing more than the ranting of whiners, cranks, and losers.  And if they continue their attacks against her without offering any proof, that’s exactly what they are.

For purposes of disclosure, Duane Roberts is the Green Party Candidate for U.S. Senate in California.

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