May 2, 2015


Koch brothers make push to court Latinos, alarming many Democrats (Mary Jordan and Ed O'Keefe, April 30, 2015, Washington Post)

The LIBRE Initiative, an expanding grass-roots organization now operating in nine states, organized the four-hour test prep session to teach the rules of the road in Spanish -- no tome y maneje (no drinking and driving), el lĂ­mite de velocidad es sesenta y cinco millas por hora (the speed limit is 65 miles per hour).

Paula Hernandez, 46, an undocumented restaurant supervisor from Mexico, was one of those sitting on folded chairs, listening. She has worked in the United States for 25 years and gave birth to three children here. She has never heard of the Koch brothers or LIBRE but said the free classes were a "great help," particularly because nobody else is lending her a hand. "President Obama promised to do more for us, and it just didn't happen," she said.

To Republicans, that sounds like an opportunity -- even though the Koch brothers and their conservative allies spend a great deal of their money supporting Republican candidates who oppose citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

"Latino celebrities, unions and left-leaning community groups" for decades have done a far better job in courting the Hispanic vote and "engaging directly with the Latino community," said Daniel Garza, executive director of LIBRE. Now, he said, his group aims to end what he calls the "deafening silence" from "libertarians and conservatives."

In addition to driver's license classes, LIBRE has started offering Latinos tax preparation help, wellness checkups, scholarships and food giveaways in Texas, Colorado, Florida and other states. It has bought ads touting the "free market," smaller government and school choice, and its officials are a growing presence on Spanish-language news stations talking about the virtues of "self-reliance."

By providing tax prep and driving classes, they are building goodwill in the Latino community and what they call a "platform for civic engagement." LIBRE officials take pains to say they are advocating policies, not specific candidates.

And they're having kids.  The Tea Partiers aren't (though they did 50 years ago).  

Posted by at May 2, 2015 9:36 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus