There's absolutely no doubt that Mark Spencer, head of the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, has turned the police union into an anti-immigration juggernaut. Spencer has been a tireless backer of state Senator (and neo-Nazi hugger) Russell Pearce's efforts to turn all law enforcement officers in Arizona into immigration agents. He's one of Sheriff Joe Arpaio's strongest supporters. And he's transformed his post into a nativist bully pulpit, appearing frequently on Mexican-basher J.D. Hayworth's former radio show, for instance, to back a far-right stance against undocumented people in the city and state.
So why would the Arizona Democratic Party and Ruben Gallego, ex-chief of staff for Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski and candidate for the state house in Legislative District 16, which includes largely Hispanic areas such as South Phoenix and Guadalupe, take donations from a group led by such an odious individual?
According to campaign finance reports on the Arizona Secretary of State's Web site, Gallego took $410 in cash from PLEA's PAC, which is chaired by Spencer. Gallego also proudly lists PLEA on the endorsement page of his Web site along with such lefty union groups as SEIU and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.
Gallego also notes in his bio that he's "the son of two Hispanic immigrants."
So why does he take funds from a guy like Spencer who has targeted the Hispanic community in rhetoric and action? A guy who has spread incendiary shibboleths about the Mexican military operating in Phoenix? A guy who never passes up the opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Russell Pearce?
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"Spencer represents a lot of police officers," Gallego responded when I called him for comment. "And those police officers -- when it comes to labor issues -- I'm going to support [them] at the state Capitol. I clearly [told PLEA] I would do that, but will not support any of their immigration views."