OCTOBER 05, 2007
A state legislator who was crowned national co chair of Hillary Clintonâ??s presidential campaign because heâ??s a champion of working class Latinos refuses to account for expensive luxurious trips abroad, stays at fine hotels and â??official businessâ? purchases at high-end Paris boutiques.
When Clinton named Californiaâ??s Democrat Assembly Speaker Fabian NuÃ±ez as a campaign national co chair, she boasted of his credentials as a former union organizer and advocate of poor Latinos, mainly those of Mexican descent like him.
After all, the legislator spent part of his childhood living in the poverty-stricken border town of Tijuana and he went on to become a well-known figure of the La Raza pro illegal immigration movement. He claims to be a great representative for hard-working poor Latino migrants because he relates to them on a personal level.
But the longtime advocate of the poor has an appetite for lavish travel and hotels, fine restaurants and fancy designer merchandise that his constituents have certainly never even heard of; Louis Vuitton in Paris, where a purse costs more than a migrant workerâ??s annual salary.
This year alone NuÃ±ez spent nearly $50,000 on overseas airfare even though he is a state lawmaker whose business is local, nearly $9,000 at an upscale hotel in Spain, $5,149 for a â??meetingâ? at a wine cellar in Franceâ??s Bordeaux region and close to $3,000 in â??office expensesâ? at the Louis Vuitton store in Paris.
NuÃ±ez refuses to explain how the expenditures relate to state business and he uses a multi million-dollar campaign account, funded by groups and companies with business before the state legislature, to pay for his lavish lifestyle. Among the donors are corporationsâ??communication and pharmaceutical among them–that lobbied NuÃ±ez to help pass legislation beneficial to their businesses.
Earlier this year NuÃ±ez was exposed for secretly exceeding contribution limits by having special interests with laws before him donate hefty sums to a ballot measure that will keep him in office longer. He found a creative way to violate state laws that restrict political donations to $7,200 by instead having millions contributed to his top cause; a bill that will actually rewrite Californiaâ??s term-limit law to allow him to serve another six years in the legislature. If the law doesnâ??t pass, NuÃ±ez will be termed out of office in 2008.
The lawmakerâ??s controversial past also includes a lengthy tenure as an activist in a Los Angeles pro illegal alien group (One Stop Immigration and Education) that was federally investigated for misappropriation of federal and state grants. NuÃ±ez also made headlines for referring to U.S. lawmakers as rednecks and threatening to bring Washington to a standstill in a 1990s event in which 100,000 rowdy Mexican flag wavers protested legislation they considered discriminatory.
More recently, the Chicano advocate lawmaker publicly declared war on Californiaâ??s governor because the governor supports securing the southern border as well as legislative measures to help curb the stateâ??s illegal immigration crisis.
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