SCOTT MOONEYHAM: Saber-Rattling on Immigration Front
A group called Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee is making its list and checking it twice.
If you haven't heard of the group, you're not alone. Earlier this summer, it held a rally outside the Legislative Building. About two dozen people showed up. The speechifying seemed to draw more gawking reporters than people cheering.
Of course, Americans for Legal Immigration isn't exactly for immigration. It was created by a fellow named Bill Gheen to oppose illegal immigration. A more apt name for the group would be "Round Up the Illegals and Ship 'Em All Back to Mexico."
At one time, Gheen worked as a legislative assistant for former state Sen. Hugh Webster of Alamance County. But he's been at this illegal immigration stuff for a while. During a campaign rally outside state Republican Party headquarters in 2002, Gheen passed out fliers blaming Gov. Mike Easley and the state's driver's license policies for a gang rape in a southern Piedmont county.
Subtlety apparently isn't his strong suit.
Americans for Legal Immigration now says it is ready to put candidates' feet to the fire on illegal immigration.
The group recently sent out a missive saying that it will begin endorsing candidates in U.S. Senate and congressional races based on their support of "border security, fines for employers, removal of taxpayer benefits for illegals, and the empowerment of local police to enforce immigration laws."
Among other things, it will penalize candidates whose campaigns advertise in Spanish. No doubt, all those state legislators who voted a few years ago to print election ballots in Spanish will get a zero.
In the release, Americans for Legal Immigration also refers to itself as "one of America's largest grassroots organizations." Interesting description for a political action committee that, in two election cycles, has taken in a few hundred contributions. Using the same criteria of political activity, surely the N.C. Academy of Trial Lawyers (or whatever it calls itself now) and the N.C. Association of Realtors must be among America's most "supermongous grassroots organizations."
Still, politicians everywhere are probably shaking in their boots.
In the previous election cycle, ALIPAC raised $47,433. It contributed to two politicians, giving $500 to Republican Congressman Walter B. Jones of North Carolina's Third District and $1,000 to Republican congressional candidate John Jacob of Utah, according to Federal Election Commission reports.
FEC reports show that the group has raised $179,547 in the current election cycle. That's a pretty good chunk of change, right? At the end of June, it had given to one candidate, $500 to California Republican Ted Hayes in a Don Quixotesque campaign against Democrat Maxine Waters.
Remaining in its coffers: $1,270.
Instead of giving to candidates, Gheen has mainly used PAC donations to pay for the group's Web site, mount public relations campaigns, conduct more fundraising and travel to Iowa and Washington.
It might be a good formula for self-promotion. It's not one that will do much to influence elections this fall.
Scott Mooneyham writes for Capitol Press Association. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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