Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which is constituted entirely of Democrats, are in turmoil after they voted to spend $50,000 on a social media campaign to attack Donald Trump’s finance chairman for Texas. Member of the caucus had taken umbrage at statements Trump has made in the past about Judge Gonzalo Curiel (whose parents were born in Mexico), border security and immigration, declaring the Republican nominee a “racist” as a result.
The focus of their ire is Dennis Nixon, who serves simultaneously as Trump’s finance chair and CEO of IBC Bank, which is based in Laredo. IBC is one of the largest banks in the Lone Star state and has a large clientele of American Latinos and customers from south of the border. The bank’s logo features an outline of the United States and Mexico.
In June, Nixon sent a letter to friends and colleagues to say that an electoral victory by Hillary Clinton this year would be disastrous. The missive also requested political donations for both Trump and the GOP. As for himself, Nixon said he would kick in $36,100. According to The Hill, the letter also noted that Nixon has “major disagreements” with Trump over issues related to immigration, trade, and “his attitude towards Mexico.”
Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus were furious at the news. Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX) repeated that Trump is a racist, while adding that Nixon had agreed to be “the state finance chair for a racist.” A second letter, sent by Senior Vice President Eddie Alderete to a Latino state lawmaker, said that Nixon was not espousing the bank’s positions while dismissing charges that Nixon endorses bigotry. “IBC has not, does not and will not make political endorsements,” Aldrete wrote.
Subsequently, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) and Vela went to Bold PAC chairman Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) to demand action on Nixon. “IBC is the largest minority-owned-bank founded by a Latino whose success has been a direct result of the Latino community in Texas,” said an email from a Democratic consultant to Bold PAC members on July 15. “We need to hold those who support Trump at the expense of hardworking Latinos accountable.” The result was that $50,.000 was committed to attack Nixon.
Another result was the explosion of differences among Latino Democrats in Congress. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), who chairs the Democratic Caucus, contended that attacking Nixon is not the way to help Latinos get elected, which is a goal among the bylaws of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s political action committee -- Bold PAC. Ultimately, Becerra lost an internal vote on attacking Nixon. Some bitterness among the Hispanic Caucus members was noted afterwards. Vela told The Hill that he will not support Becerra’s bid to take over the Democratic leadership, expressing befuddlement that Becerra would oppose the social media campaign against Nixon. Another one of Becerra’s critics is Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), one of the most leftist members of the House.
Some members of the Hispanic Caucus contended that the best way to get Latinos elected is by focusing on differences with Trump over immigration and border issues and his supposed racist comments. Among the elections in contention is a close race between incumbent Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) and former Rep. Pete Gallego (D-TX), a Latino who Hurd defeated in 2014. Grijalva said this week that by highlighting Trump’s comments, candidates can “get some traction.”