July 18, 2008
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Obama and McCain Court Radical Mexican Separatist Group
Looking to curry favor with Latino voters, Barack Obama and John McCain both made high profile speeches recently before the extremist Mexican group, the National Council of La Raza, or the "National Council of The Race." (Actually, Obama’s speech was really more of a pep rally as the president of the supposedly nonpartisan council has all but endorsed the presumptive Democratic nominee.)
So, what is the National Council of La Raza and why is it so dangerous?
Founded in 1968, the National Council of La Raza has somehow managed to carve out an image as a mainstream civil rights organization, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is essentially the public relations arm of the Mexican reconquista movement, which seeks to conquer the American Southwest – by force or by ballot box – and return it to Mexico. The organization aggressively lobbies for open borders and supports amnesty for the 12 million illegals currently residing in the United States. Remember all those rallies supporting illegal immigration a couple of years ago? This is the group that helped organize them.
(By the way, you may be interested to know that your tax dollars have even been used to support the National Council of La Raza, which has received $30 million in federal grants since 1996.)
During their speeches, McCain and Obama put the political pander machine into overdrive.
Obama called for a "stop [to] the hateful rhetoric filling our airwaves — rhetoric that poisons our political discourse, degrades our democracy, and has no place in this great nation." (He was, of course, attacking opponents of illegal immigration and altogether ignoring the racism of the "La Raza" movement, which is expressed in its very name and other ideas like turning the United States into a "bronze nation.")
McCain, touting his efforts to pass comprehensive "illegal immigration reform" said that supporting amnesty for illegal aliens is "the right thing to do for Hispanic Americans…the right thing to do for all Americans."
Actually, the right thing to do for all Americans is to protect the border and enforce the law, something Judicial Watch has been pushing aggressively for years. But you won’t hear much emphasis on those common sense ideas from either presidential candidate as they attempt to lock up what they perceive to be the Latino vote by playing the race card.
(Our polling has found that Hispanics favor strict enforcement of our nation’s laws and oppose taxpayer funding of illegal day labor sites. Politicians like McCain and Obama should understand that Americans, from all stripes, oppose illegal immigration.)
If this subject interests you, and you want more information on the "La Raza" movement, check out this special report we produced last year on Academilla Semillas del Pueblo, a Mexican separatist school in California supported by the National Council of La Raza. It is truly eye-opening.
Rangel Caught in Two Scandals in One Week
This was not a good week for Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY). First this, according to The Washington Post:
"House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles B. Rangel is soliciting donations from corporations with business interests before his panel, hoping to raise $30 million for a new academic center that will house his papers when he retires.
"The New York Democrat has penned letters on congressional stationery and has sought meetings to ask for corporate and foundation contributions for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at the City College of New York, a project that caused controversy last year when he won a $1.9 million congressional earmark to help start it. Republican critics dubbed the project Rangel’s "Monument to Me."
The powerful New York Congressman also secured grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development totaling $690,000 for the Rangel Center.
If you ask me, all of this sounds very similar to the Clintons’ fundraising efforts on behalf of the Clinton Presidential Library, where the Clintons shamelessly traded favors (including presidential pardons) in exchange for donations to the library, which was designed to help secure the "Clinton legacy." (The Bushies may have crossed the line, too.)
And what is Charlie Rangel’s response to all of this? He doesn’t think he’s done anything improper, or at least he’s not saying so publicly. In fact, even he is calling for an investigation, saying that he wants to "clear the air." In a display of arrogance even unusual for a politician, Rangel seems to believe that because he believes he is ethical, anything he does is ethical.
Let’s hope the ethics committee accepts his challenge.
Rangel was also under fire this week, not from the media or his Republican colleagues, but from his own neighbors. Many of them are being evicted from their luxury Harlem rent-controlled apartments as the landlord wants to put the apartments on the open market. Rangel, who rents four rent controlled apartments, and has since 1970, thus far remains untouched, leading to charges of favoritism and influence peddling.
According to the New York Times, which broke the story, "Rent-stabilized apartments in New York City are supposed to be a way for the city to retain residents with moderate incomes – teachers and police officers, for example."
Ask anyone who has tried to secure one of these rent-controlled apartments, and they’ll tell you the same thing: They are impossible to get. And yet, somehow Charlie Rangel, who, according to the Times, has a net worth of between $500,000 and $1.2 million was able to obtain four of them?
Press reports suggest Rangel "voluntarily" gave up one of the apartments he was leasing (in apparent violation of the law) for a campaign office, though his congressional office has issued no statement to that effect. (Is the FEC listening?) Some in Congress are considering an ethics investigation into this matter as well.
Rangel seems like the umpteenth example of recent congressional corruption. His Democratic leadership, if they truly care about cleaning up Congress, ought to remove him (at least temporarily) from his key committee chairmanship.
Judicial Watch Argues Appeal in Judicial Double Dipping Lawsuit
Judicial Watch attorney Sterling "Ernie" Norris was in California state appellate court this week arguing our judicial "double dipping" taxpayer lawsuit.
You can read a copy of the original complaint here, but here’s the crux of our argument:
According to the California State Constitution, "[t]he Legislature shall prescribe compensation for judges of courts of record." In 1997, the California State Legislature enacted a law providing that "[o]n and after July 1, 1997, the state shall assume sole responsibility for the funding of court operations," including salaries and benefits packages. In other words, from that point forward, judges were no longer county employees.
However, in clear defiance of the California State Constitution and California law, since 1998, Los Angeles County has provided at least $100 million in taxpayer funds to county judges in the form of "local judicial benefits." That’s what we call double-dipping and it may get judges in LA County up to 19% more cash income than their colleagues across the state.
We requested that the court immediately terminate payment of all "local judicial benefits."
Unfortunately, our lawsuit was dismissed by a lower court, hence the appeals court hearing before the Court of Appeals of California in San Diego.
I’m told our attorney did an excellent job and that our argument seemed to receive a respectful hearing from the panel of appellate judges. Let’s hope for a positive ruling.
I must say, in closing, that this type of litigation shows the importance of Judicial Watch. Who else would dare try to sue to cut the salary, essentially, of every judge in Los Angeles?!
We have to keep an eye on our judges and hold them to account, as appropriate, to the law.
Until next week…
Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts, click here.