The problem both Gallego and Phoenix cops have is that Spencer has been elected by that same rank and file. Perhaps Spencer is in his second term as PLEA honcho because he's been a successful advocate on bread-and-butter issues for cops. But Spencer is also one of the many faces of anti-immigrant hate in Arizona. His advocacy for turning the Phoenix Police Department into a Mexican-rousting army cannot be compartmentalized and ignored.
Which is why all Democrats supportive of comprehensive immigration reform should turn down endorsements and donations from Mark Spencer's PLEA until he no longer heads that organization.
Gallego scoffed that $410 "is nothing." (Gallego's raised $24K to date, according to his campaign filings.) So I suggested that if he didn't need the money, he should return the contribution.
"Would that make you feel better?" he replied after a pregnant pause. He went on to state that it would be an "insult" to return the dough, so he wouldn't be considering that possibility.
Equally troubling is the state Democratic Party taking Spencer's payola. Last year, Arizona Dems took $1,000 from PLEA. In 2008, it also took $1,000. The state GOP has accepted far more from PLEA. But then, the state Republican Party, led by anti-immigrant bigot Randy Pullen, is far more in line with Mark Spencer's way of thinking.
State Dems spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson also rationalized pocketing the green, arguing that Spencer just happens to head the union.
"The Democratic Party has a long-standing relationship with various law enforcement organizations," she told me. "We value those relationships...That doesn't mean we're going to agree with them on every issue."
If Arizona Dems are going to use that yardstick, they might as well take money from Randy Pullen. After all, that doesn't mean they're going to agree with Sand Land GOPers on everything.
If, hypothetically, PLEA was headed by Russell Pearce or Joe Arpaio, would the Dems and Gallego still take the cash? In deed and word, Spencer may be a junior member of the he-man Mexican-haters league, compared to Pearce and Arpaio, but he's still on board with their program of de facto ethnic cleansing.
During one visit to J.D. Hayworth's erstwhile afternoon show on KFYI, Spencer summed up his attitude toward the undocumented: They're all criminals.
"I think it's difficult for a person who's in this country illegally to obey the law -- in a Biblical fashion," stated Spencer of religious leaders speaking out against anti-immigrant rhetoric, "when every moment they're here illegally is the further commission of a crime."
What Spencer teaches in Sunday school is one thing. To whom he gives money as the head of PLEA is another. So why sully yourself, your message, or your commitment to social justice by taking it?
PS: Thanks for the comment below, Dennis. I don't remember speaking to Gallego at the march. I did see him there. I may have said or nodded hello, but we did not have a conversation. If we had, I wouldn't have a problem admitting it. In fact, I would have used it in the blog item! Grist for the mill, dontcha know.
It's not really that important of a point, as I didn't (and don't) challenge his statement that he's attended marches. There were a lot of people present at the march. Politicians, ordinary people, etc. Not many of them have taken money or an endorsement from Mark Spencer's PLEA, though. I can think of one other.
PLEA is a dangerous organization while Spencer remains its president. As you know, Spencer is a crucial Joe Arpaio ally. Why is he a crucial Arpaio ally? Because he's the head of PLEA. It's not because of his looks.
Gallego might be a swell fella. I know he has the support of some powerful politicos and organizations. I don't think he needs the money or the endorsement from PLEA. And I don't think the Dems should take money from PLEA, either. Not until Spencer's out of there.