An employee of Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), together with a political ally of “Gang of Eight” member Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), will argue Friday that groups opposed to the immigration bill pending in the U.S. Senate are “nativists,” Breitbart News has learned.
ATR’s Josh Culling and Hispanic Leadership Fund (HLF) president Mario Lopez will make the argument on a conference call with mainstream media reporters on Friday at 11 AM EDT. Brad Bailey of an organization called Texas Immigration Studies will join them on the call.
“As the momentum behind immigration reform continues to build and strengthen, an anti-immigrant opposition is working to scuttle and kill immigration efforts in Congress,” those organizing the press call said in a release obtained by Breitbart News (emphasis added):
Many of these groups are deeply associated with John Tanton, the father of the modern anti-immigrant movement, and his network of nativist groups, including the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), NumbersUSA, and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Over the years, Tanton’s network has extended its reach beyond these groups and to some of the most vocal opponents of immigration reform in Congress. [emphasis added]
The authors of the press release added that Culling, Lopez and Bailey–described in the release as “conservative leaders”–will “dive deep into the inner-workings of John Tanton’s network–including its influence on legislators, its ties to radical population control activists, and its opposition to all immigration (including legal immigration)==and discuss the potential implications of the Tanton network and its involvement in the current immigration debate.”
Culling is ATR’s Government Affairs Manager and is working on Norquist’s behalf to lobby for the passage of the Gang of Eight legislation in the Senate. Lopez is working specifically with Rubio to do the same.
In February, Lopez distributed a paper with his byline around Capitol Hill promoting a similar message to this press release. According to the Washington Post‘s Peter Wallsten, in early February, Rubio and his staff brought Lopez into meetings to encourage him to discredit groups like the Center for Immigration Studies, NumbersUSA, and Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
“Rubio’s aides last week brought one of the organizers of the effort to undermine the groups, Mario H. Lopez, a party strategist on Hispanic politics, to a regular meeting of GOP Senate staffers, at which Lopez distributed literature about the groups’ backgrounds and connections,” Wallsten wrote on February 13. “Rubio also raised concerns about the groups’ leanings during a recent conference call on immigration with conservative activists.”
Wallsten noted at the time that Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said the Senator “has argued that some groups that oppose legal immigration should not be considered part of the conservative coalition,” and the “vast majority of Republicans strongly support legal immigration.” Conant has not responded to requests for comment from Breitbart News regarding these remarks, nor has Rubio’s outreach director, J.R. Sanchez, or his chief of staff, Cesar Conda.
Lopez’s ties to Rubio go back to the Florida junior Senator’s early days in national politics. Lopez touted his support for Rubio from the very beginning of his campaign for Senate. “From the moment that the establishment lined up behind Charlie Crist, the Hispanic Leadership Fund stood up to say that Marco Rubio was the type of leader who belonged in the Senate,” Lopez said in a statement the night Rubio was elected to the U.S. Senate.
Further, Lopez has given quotes to news outlets defending the Senate’s immigration bill and specifically Rubio. “People appreciate his kind of leadership and that he’s taking such a thoughtful approach to the immigration issue,” Lopez said of Rubio, according to the National Journal‘s Beth Reinhard. “People appreciate him stepping up.”
When Lopez previously accused the bill’s opponents of “nativism” earlier this year, Rubio’s team did not publicly rebuke the attacks. According to the Daily Caller’s Neil Munro, Rubio spokesman Conant “downplayed the revelations” that the Senator worked with Lopez on the attack.
Lopez tried to organize a similar conference call on Tuesday but canceled it at the last minute due to what call organizers described as scheduling conflicts. Breitbart News’ Mike Flynn reported before they canceled that call that these figures’ research “draw[s] heavily on” information compiled by the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
Flynn reported that the original Tuesday call “was scheduled to take place as the Senate was having its first floor vote on the Gang bill.”
The phone number at which they will present this argument on Friday morning at 11 AM EDT is 877-888-4319. The password for the conference call is “TANTON.”