House Hispanics pissed at Democratic leadership

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus leadership is playing down published reports that some of its members are threatening to withhold their Democratic Party membership funds because of their disenchantment with the party’s outreach to Hispanics and lack of attention from House party leaders.

Several of the Latino lawmakers say they will not pay the money _ campaign funds each is responsible for raising _ until House Democratic leaders address their concerns, including greater involvement in key decisions. The funds, called dues by legislators, range from $100,000 to as much as $600,000 every three months.

Leaders imposed a March 31 date for the first installment, a deadline several lawmakers say is unreasonable.

Caucus chair Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., who was out of town when the Latino legislators met to talk about withholding dues, contends that the decision to withhold funds is not a caucus-wide effort.

“I think each member has to make up their own mind of what we need to do. We’ve discussed many things, and that’s just one of the things we will continue to talk about,” she told Weekly Report.

On March 9, almost immediately after the controversy was first reported by the congressional paper The Hill, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., met with a handful of caucus members.

“I’m encouraged. We’re solidified, we’re all together, we have unity,” caucus vice chairman Joe Baca, D-Calif., reported after the meeting. “We talked about what we all needed to do to work together to take back the House and we wanted to make sure that the Hispanic Caucus was included in part of the whole process, and I think we can be very pivotal. Our objectives are the same.”