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“Ted Cruz’s ‘Flat Out Lie’ On Immigration”: How Do You Say Hypocrite In Spanish? Do You Know? It’s Ted Cruz

For Latino Republicans who have known Ted Cruz over the last 15 years, the candidate stumping across the country on an anti-immigration platform is not the rising talent they once worked with on the George W. Bush campaign, in the Bush administration, and then as Texas Solicitor General.

The Ted Cruz of those years was a whip-smart and audaciously ambitious lawyer who lent his considerable intellectual heft to the policies many Latino Republicans cared most about, including immigration reform. But during a CNN debate in December, as Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio clashed over Cruz’s past positions on offering legal status to undocumented immigrants, Cruz said definitively, “I’ve never supported legalization, I do not intend to support it.”

Weeks later, Cruz doubled down, explaining to Fox News’ Bret Baier that he tried to amend the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” comprehensive immigration reform bill not to pass it, but to doom it to defeat. “Bret, you’ve been around Washington long enough, you know how to defeat bad legislation.”

And with that, Cruz’s bridge back to his former colleagues in Latino Republican circles began to burn.

“It’s just a flat out lie. Period,” said Robert De Posada. “There’s just no truth behind it.”

De Posada is a former Director of Hispanic Affairs for the RNC and founder of the Latino Coalition, a conservative Latino organization that worked with the Bush administration unsuccessfully to pass immigration reform. “My criticism is that Cruz can say, ‘Things have changed and I’ve changed my position.’ But don’t sit here and flat out lie that you have never been for legalization when the facts are very clear.”

The facts, according to De Posada and several Republicans who worked with Cruz in Washington and Texas, are that in Cruz’s past work for Bush and later as a board member of the Washington-based Hispanic Alliance for Prosperity Institute, Cruz helped craft policies to allow undocumented immigrants to stay in the country and pursue legal status.

None of those efforts included granting automatic amnesty to undocumented workers, but it is clear in the minds of his former colleagues that finding a way to offer immigrants a way to remain in the United States and gain legal status was central to the work Cruz did.

A former Bush administration official who worked with Cruz during the 2000 campaign and later as a part of an interdepartmental White House working group on immigration remembered Cruz as an aggressive member of the teams tasked with creating a framework to pass Bush’s pro-immigration agenda. The position Cruz holds today was not in play in those years, the official said, in sometimes deeply personal terms.

“How do you say hypocrite in Spanish? Do you know? It’s Ted Cruz,” the former official said. “To know Ted is to hate Ted.”

The official described Cruz’s role on the Bush immigration agenda as working as a liaison between the office of public liaison and the White House’s policy shop. “He wanted to bring immigrants out of the shadows,” the official said. “That’s changed since the campaign and changed since the White House days. But of course it has. If it suits Ted, he’s for it. If it doesn’t, he’s against it.”

“It’s a disappointment,” said the official, who, like many of the people interviewed for this piece, referenced Cruz’s natural intelligence. “I think Ted could do a lot of good if he had a soul.”

But before the White House, Cruz worked in Texas as a policy adviser for the Bush presidential campaign, including on Bush’s plans for immigration reform.

When Charles Foster, a prominent Houston immigration lawyer, was tapped to draft Bush’s plan, he said he was told the campaign had a team of bright young lawyers to work with him. “One of them, named Ted Cruz, had in his bailiwick of issues immigration and he would be my contact with the campaign,” Foster said.

Together, Foster and Cruz worked for nine months drafting what would become the immigration principles of the Bush campaign and eventually the White House. The plan would not include amnesty like Ronald Reagan’s blanket legalization program, which immediately put undocumented immigrants in line for citizenship. But Bush would push for a path to legal status, an aggressive temporary worker program, and a requirement that undocumented workers who stayed in the United States would go to the back of the line for citizenship.

Foster remembers Cruz as a “very hands on” professional who never raised objections to the policies. “I assumed Ted was supportive of Gov. Bush’s positions, but I honestly can’t remember asking Ted if he agreed with the position and personally supported it. I assume he did, but we were like lawyers representing the interests of our client.”

After the campaign and two years in the Bush administration, Cruz moved home to Texas to become the state’s Solicitor General in 2003. Once in Texas, he joined the board of advisers for HAPI, a group of Latino conservatives that included George P. Bush, former members of Congress, and multiple veterans of the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush administrations.

While Cruz was a member of the board and its policy committee, HAPI advocated conservative positions to an array of issues, including its opposition to both climate change legislation and the Affordable Care Act. On immigration, HAPI strongly advocated for a path to legalization, including President Bush’s principles for immigration reform, as well as the 2006 McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill.

“It’s just bullshit,” said a former member of the HAPI when asked about Cruz’s contention that he never supported legalization. “That’s what pisses us all off. Don’t throw us under the bus for legalization and not take on the nativists and the crazies when you wrote the language. Stand for something.”

The former HAPI board member, who asked not to be named in order to speak freely, described Cruz as a fully engaged member of the group. Cruz co-chaired a 2005 event featuring Gov. Rick Perry and served as a keynote speaker for two of the group’s events. And because of Cruz’s legal expertise, board members said they relied on him to do the first draft of policy positions, including HAPI’s support for immigration reform. When he ran for Senate in 2012, HAPI hosted a fundraiser to support his candidacy.

In the 2012 campaign for Senate, Cruz’s role at HAPI became the subject of a bitter disagreement between Cruz and David Dewhurst, then the lieutenant governor of Texas and Cruz’s opponent in the Senate primary race. The Dewhurst campaign accused Cruz of “leading two organizations that support amnesty,” a position that neither HAPI nor the other group ever supported. But members of HAPI’s board insist that legalization for undocumented immigrants was always unequivocally a part of its platform.

HAPI no longer exists, but Cruz has gone on to become its most famous and potentially most powerful former member, an end to the story that many of his fellow Latino Republicans lament.

“When he went so far as to say he’s never been for legalizing, that’s where he crossed the line and lost people like me,” said Robert De Posada. “It’s a character issue where a lot of us are just like, ‘Um, no.’”


By: Patricia Murphy, The Daily Beast, January 28, 2016

February 1, 2016 Posted by | Immigration Reform, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Why Does The National Media Get Texas So Wrong?”: Ultra-Conservative Candidates Aren’t Fading Away

Tuesday, as Texas primary voters headed to the polls, Politico published an article titled, “The Texas tea party’s best days may be behind it.” Below the headline were photographs of Governor Rick Perry, the state’s junior U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, and Congressman Steve Stockman, who had decided to wage a last-minute, barely visible campaign again Texas’s senior U.S. senator, John Cornyn. The article focused on the Cornyn-Stockman race, and it mentioned a congressional primary in which incumbent Pete Sessions faced a Tea Party challenge from Katrina Pierson.

To anyone familiar with Texas politics, the article was baffling. It made no mention of the state’s most-watched (and most important) GOP primary, the race for the lieutenant governor nomination, and it made only a passing reference to the attorney general race, even though both contests featured bloody fights between so-called “establishment” and Tea Party candidates. The state’s hardest-right election force, the Empower Texans political action committee, also didn’t figure anywhere in the story.

Even after results poured in showing that for the most part Texas remains a dangerous place to skate too near the center, The New York Times headlined its recap with “Texas GOP beats back challengers from the right.” The Times reported that “conservatives inspired by Senator Ted Cruz largely failed to topple mainstream incumbents”—largely because Stockman and Pierson lost.

From these write-ups, you would never guess the significance of incumbent Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst’s poor showing. Dewhurst, whose U.S. Senate dreams were toppled by Ted Cruz in 2012, managed only 28 percent, while his challenger, the pro-life, pro-Tea Party state Senator Dan Patrick, hit 44 percent. The two will run off May 27 but things don’t look great for Dewhurst. The lieutenant governor, who occupies the state’s most powerful office, has personal wealth that can provide whatever funds he needs, but Patrick’s fan base is larger—in addition to being a state senator, he’s a talk-radio personality in the state.

Results shook out similarly in the attorney general’s race, where Tea Party-backed state Senator Ken Paxton got the most votes and will run off against state Representative Dan Branch. You’d also have no idea that veteran state Senator John Carona, one of only a few moderates left in the Texas senate, had fallen to a Tea Party challenger, as did a handful of state representatives. Stockman may have garnered the most national attention, but he was never a serious contender. He ran a haphazard campaign that received little support from the state’s strong Tea Party network, despite his extreme rhetoric.

So how did Politico and the Times miss the big picture? Texas is complicated because there’s no binary opposition between “establishment” candidates and those affiliated with the Tea Party. Should we define “establishment” as Speaker of the House Joe Straus, who has himself a relatively moderate record but has presided over one of the state’s most conservative legislatures? Outside Tea Party groups have tried to topple Straus, yet he also commands support from Tea Party-backed state representatives. Or is the “establishment” closer to Governor Rick Perry, the state’s longest-serving governor, who gave one of the first major speeches at a Tea Party rally in 2009? Or is it David Dewhurst, who hung tight to Perry’s message, passed extreme measures, but then watched his political dreams crumble as Cruz rose to power by accusing Dewhurst of being a moderate?

There’s no clear leader of the Texas right. Cruz may be the current face of the Tea Party movement, but he’s busy gumming up the gears in Washington; when it comes to state politics, particularly in a dominant party with several different factions, there’s a lot more to consider than just Cruz’s endorsement. Ever since his “oops” moment while running for president, Perry’s iron fist has been slackening back home. And Empower Texans, the state PAC that frequently bullied elected officials with threats of a primary challenge, managed to annoy too many incumbents and is now facing ethical charges.

Incumbency is the least helpful method for judging whether someone is Tea Party or establishment. This is the Tea Party’s third election cycle. The candidates of 2010 are now veteran lawmakers, and many moderate Republicans have peeled off over the last four years. Plus, a number of prominent party members currently affiliated with the Tea Party predated the movement anyway. Arguing that the right is getting beat back because incumbents largely escaped unscathed misses the whole point. Many incumbents are Tea Party already.

In the attorney general’s race, for instance, three candidates ran. Ken Paxton, a state senator who, as a House member, challenged Straus for the speakership and earned plenty of Tea Party accolades, got the most votes and will run off against Dan Branch. Branch is a state representative from Dallas’s wealthiest suburb, and he’s been a loyal Straus lieutenant. That’s relatively straightforward until you throw Barry Smitherman in the mix. Smitherman came in last, but during the campaign he may have won the award for most extreme comments, including his promise for a “conservative crusade.” So is his loss a loss for the Tea Party? Don’t tell that to Paxton.

The Tea Party isn’t monolithic and it sure as hell isn’t represented solely by national fundraising groups like FreedomWorks or figures like Ted Cruz. There are rural Tea Partiers and suburban ones who are bound to have different views on issues like public schools or water policy. There are stylistic differences and substantive differences, from those who are more libertarian to those who are more business-oriented, and of course the social conservatives. They all hate President Obama, but that doesn’t mean they’re all going to look just like Ted Cruz.

The “movement” may no longer be the powerhouse it was in 2010, and certainly its splintering means there’s no central “Tea Party voice.” But Tuesday night’s results don’t show the ultra-conservative candidates fading away. Maybe by the May runoffs, the national media will see that too.

By: Abby Rapoport, The American Prospect, March 5, 2014

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Tea Party, Texas | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Texas Rebellion”: Wendy Davis Gives New Hope To The Future For American Women

A rowdy crowd of women making demands as loudly as they can—and winning? That sort of thing doesn’t happen in Texas. Except that now, apparently, it does.

Beginning on Tuesday morning and stretching into the wee hours of Wednesday, Democrat Wendy Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, became a national pro-choice hero as thousands of Texans flooded the state capitol to cheer her effort to stop a draconian anti-abortion bill. Governor Rick Perry had added abortion restrictions to the agenda halfway through a special session of the legislature originally intended to pass new redistricting maps. Before the session ended at midnight on Tuesday, Republican lawmakers hoped to rush through what would have been one of the nation’s most extreme anti-abortion laws. For 11 hours, Davis filibustered a bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks and shut down all but five of the state’s abortion clinics.

It was high drama: If Davis could hold out till midnight, she’d block the bill. It wouldn’t be easy. Under Texas’s strict filibuster rules, the senator could not eat, drink, use the bathroom, or even lean on the lectern. She couldn’t simply read from the phone book, either; she had to talk about the abortion bill or, after three warnings, the majority Republicans could force her to sit down. As the hours went by, Davis’s following grew. Nearly 180,000 followed the livestream from the Senate floor. The news spread on Twitter, where the state senator went from around 1,200 followers to over 67,000. Celebrities like Lena Dunham and Julianne Moore tweeted out support. So did President Obama, who wrote: “Something special is happening in Austin tonight,” with the hashtag “StandWithWendy.” The hashtag trended worldwide for hours.

But in the end it was the hundreds of pro-choice activists in the gallery who killed the bill in one of the most dramatic moments in Texas political memory. While Davis became the face of the effort, she was also just one part of a movement that organized swiftly and effectively. It was a feat of organization, and a show of progressive energy, that will provide a shot of energy for Democrats’ to turn the state blue.

The showdown began on Thursday with an unexpected turnout from pro-choice activists. When the House State Affairs Committee considered the anti-abortion measure, 600 activists flooded the hearing, conducting what they called a “citizen’s filibuster.” According to one lawmaker, 92 percent of those who came to testify opposed the bill. One after another, pro-choice Texans told their stories as hours ticked by. Around 4 a.m. on Friday, the Republican committee chair finally cut off testimony, calling the statements “repetitive.” The committee passed the bill quietly the next day and the House recessed until Sunday, when House Republicans planned to use technical maneuvers to fast-track the measure.

On Sunday, pro-choice activists again packed the gallery, far outnumbering the opposition. Progressives from across the country began sending food and coffee to show support. House  Democrats managed to use amendments and points of order to delay the bill for more than a day, buying enough time to make a Senate filibuster possible. By the time the House finally passed the measure, it couldn’t be heard in the Senate until Tuesday. The filibuster was on.

Davis was the obvious choice to lead the filibuster. Since first being elected in 2008, when she unseated a powerful Republican lawmaker, Davis has stood out as a progressive firebrand unafraid of antagonizing her Republican colleagues. Her biography alone is impressive; a former teen mom living in a trailer, Davis put herself through both college and law school, where she graduated valedictorian. She’s unabashed in talking about her experiences with poverty and her reliance on Planned Parenthood for health care; during the filibuster, she called it “her medical home.” Davis had ended the regular legislative session in 2011 with a filibuster of $5.4 billion in cuts to public schools. That one only took an hour and a half, however, and was largely for show; the legislature came back in a special session and cut the money. But it earned Davis, who’s seen as a future statewide candidate, icon status among Texas’s long-put-upon progressives.

By the time Davis’s filibuster began on Tuesday morning, it wasn’t just the Senate gallery that was packed. Throughout the capitol and spilling outside, people wore burnt orange T-shirts, the color associated with the Texas cause (and not coincidentally, with the University of Texas). Many read, “Stand with Texas Women.” Davis read testimony from women who weren’t allowed to testify at Thursday’s committee hearing. She took questions defending her position. She spoke deliberately, was careful to avoid leaning on the podium, and occasionally paced slowly around her desk as she spoke.

As the hours ticked by, Republican senators watched like hawks for Davis to slip up. At the six-hour mark, Davis got her first warning for talking about funding for Planned Parenthood and women’s health programs—which, according to the chair, were not germane to a bill on abortion restrictions. She got another when a colleague helped her put on a back brace. The gallery was beginning to get restless when all hell broke loose around 10 p.m. With just two hours to go, Davis received her third warning—this time for mentioning a pre-abortion sonogram requirement the chamber passed last session. Her Democratic colleagues began trying to stall, raising parliamentary inquiries and appeals. Republicans scrambled to end the filibuster and take a vote before the clock hit midnight and the special session was over.

With 15 minutes to go, it looked like the Senate Democrats couldn’t hold out. Republicans were trying to vote as Democrats attempted to concoct more procedural delays. The spectators were subdued and anxious. Then things went crazy. First, the chair refused to recognize a motion to adjourn from Senator Leticia van de Putte, a Democrat who had just arrived from her father’s funeral. Van de Putte tried to make another motion, but the chair once again did not recognize her. Finally, exasperated, she called out: “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be heard over the male colleagues in the room?

That did it. The spectators began to cheer, overwhelming the attempts of the chair to quiet them down. For a full quarter of an hour, they shouted and screamed with unceasing volume, as Republicans tried to get a vote on the bill. After midnight came and went, the Senate Republicans argued that they did take a vote and had prevailed. But the record showed otherwise; screenshots captured the Texas Legislative website showing the vote had been taken on June 26, after midnight.

Senators convened a closed-door caucus meeting to try and sort out what had actually happened. The gallery was cleared in the Senate chamber, but nobody left. People in burnt-orange T-shirts were everywhere—in the capitol rotunda, outside the building, in the hallways. It wasn’t until after 2 a.m. that word broke: The session was over, the bill was dead, and pro-choice Texans had won.

It was the kind of landmark victory that Texas progressives haven’t seen in years—a couple of decades, really. Not surprisingly, conservatives didn’t mince words about the proceedings. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, who’s been blamed by Republicans for the madness in his chamber, complained that the activists were “an unruly mob.” State Representative Bill Zedler tweeted, “We had terrorist [sic] in the Texas State Senate opposing [the bill].”

But these activists weren’t terrorists. They were the Texans that national observers rarely see—and they are helping to plant the seeds of a progressive revival in the state. As I watched people happily file out of the capitol in the early morning hours, it was striking to see the vast array of ages and races. Young hipsters and older soccer moms all seemed united. Most of those who have talked about a potential sea change in Texas politics have focused on Latino mobilization. (I just wrote a feature on the subject.) But Texas women have also been under-organized (and less Democratic than in other states), and they are another key to any potential progressive movement in the state. And while Davis was the face of the effort, it was pro-choice women’s spontaneous burst of engagement that shook up Texas politics this week.


By: Abby Rapoport, The American Prospect, June 26, 2013

June 27, 2013 Posted by | Abortion, Reproductive Rights | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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