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Latinos for Reform Run By Bush Pioneers and Appointees

Yesterday, a group called Latinos for Reform released two ads, one in English and one in Spanish, calling on Hispanic voters to withhold their votes for Democrats this midterm election because of a failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform. While there are no distinguishing marks on the ad and nothing on their website, which lists merely a PO Box in Virginia, you could tell something is up by the frequent shots of Maxine Waters and Charlie Rangel in the ad. So what is Latinos for Reform?

It’s a GOP front group that was around in 2008 as well.

A Republican Latino group with ties to the Bush Administration is airing ads alleging that Obama puts African Americans before Latinos and Africa before Latin America.

The chairman of Latinos For Reform is Robert Deposada, who has served in the leadership of the Hispanic Business Roundtable and The Latino Coalition, and was formerly director of Hispanic affairs for the Republican National Committee. In 2001, President Bush appointed Deposada to a commission to advance the administration’s plan for privatizing Social Security […]

The treasurer of Latinos For Reform is high-powered Republican lobbyist Juan Carlos Benitez, whose firm brags that he “has exceptionally close ties to the White House.” Benitez was a Pioneer — he raised more than $100,000 for the 2004 re-election campaign — and President Bush named him special counsel for immigration-related unfair employment practices. Benitez also raised between $50,000 and $100,000 this election cycle for McCain.

Here is the disclosure of Latinos for Reform’s ad spending in 2008. I’m assuming that this year, thanks to Citizens United, they have not yet had to disclose, because I haven’t found that data. Around half their money in 2008 came from the late pro-life publisher John Finn.

What’s unusual about this ad is that it’s the first I can remember with conservatives pitching specifically a message playing to the frustrations that many Democratic coalitions and allies feel about the current Administration and Congress. It does so in the most heavy-handed manner possible, with the gratuitous shots of black lawmakers. But it’s a technique to deliberately keep the enthusiasm gap wide. The appeal comes from a “Latinos for Reform” group to Latinos, talking with some sense of kinship about how Democrats “tried to pull the wool over our eyes” and “take us for granted.”

UPDATE: This ad is apparently running in heavy rotation in Nevada. Harry Reid highlighted it in a fundraising email, calling it an example of “Hispanic voter suppression.”

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David Dayen

David Dayen