UPDATED AT END OF ARTICLE
The Republican Party of Orange County is suspending aid to Mark Lopez, who is running for Anaheim City Council in District 5, over his comments regarding making Anaheim a sanctuary city for illegal immigrants. Lopez is part of the slate of candidates endorsed by Mayor Tom Tait in the four council districts on the November 8 ballot; the others are leftist Democrats Jose F. Moreno (District 3) and Arturo Ferreras (District 4), and Republican Denise Barnes in District 1.
Candidates at the October 24 candidate forum, which was organized by a coalition of progressive political groups. The audience was packed with progressive activists who cheered loudly when candidates struck the left-most position.
Candidates were asked if they supported declaring Anaheim a “sanctuary city for undocumented residents.” Moreno and Ferreras each said they did. Lopez didn’t use the phrase “sanctuary city” but his answer supported the elements of sanctuary city status – prohibiting the police to from involvement with federal immigration matters.
Republican Outcry Over Lopez Stance
Lopez’ answer sparked an outcry among OC GOP activists and calls for the county party to rescind its endorsement of Lopez. Adding fuel to the fire were Lopez’s politically correct answers to questions about the city’s anti-camping ordinance to prevent parks from turning into homeless encampments, and Anaheim’s participation in a Homeland Security Department anti-terrorism program.
Lopez pledged to support repeal of the anti-camping ordinance and oppose city participation in the anti-terrorism program – criticizing it was “discriminatory.”
At the same time, video emerged of Lopez attending an Arab American Democratic Club fundraiser for progressive Democrat Jose F. Moreno:
OC GOP Suspends Aid To Lopez|
Republican Party of Orange County Chairman Fred Whitaker sent out an e-mail this morning noting the calls for a special meeting to rescind Lopez’s endorsement (and that of an Irvine school board candidate for unrelated reasons) but said that “If the allegations are true, I do not condone them. Yet, I also believe that calling a Special Meeting this close to the election takes us away from our focus on winning our targeted races.” Rather than call a special meeting, Whitaker opted to “suspend aid” to Lopez and the other candidate.
That is a serious step in an of itself because it deprives the Lopez campaign of the ability to conduct “member communications” to GOP voters via the county party.
Lopez has been denying he supports sanctuary city status for Anaheim. Here’s the complete text of his answer to the question:
“I have a similar situation that many of you in this room probably have. My father was undocumented. I helped him-I sponsored him to get citizenship a few years ago. Probably three or four years ago. So most of you in this room probably are undocumented or you know someone, you have a family member who is undocumented.
I’m against deportations that would separate these families. You have two young children — families — this is the only country you’ve ever known – I’m completely against that.
I feel like we need to have our local law enforcement do local law enforcement issues – they shouldn’t be enforcing federal laws. They shouldn’t be going out, sort of doing these immigration checks and that sort of thing. I would be opposed to that.”
As mentioned, Lopez avoided using the phrase “sanctuary city.” However, it’s fair to say he elucidated support for the elements of sanctuary city status. Put another way: if a candidate said they supported the individual health care mandate, supported the state and federal health care exchanges, the accompanying subsidies and taxes and coverage mandates – it would be fair to say they supported ObamaCare even if they never used the term “ObamaCare.”
If Lopez opposes sanctuary city status, he could simply have said, “I would not support making Anaheim a sanctuary city.” It is revealing that he chose not to say it, but instead pandered to the crowd to at least leave the impression that he was with them on this policy.
UPDATED 11/1/16: Republican Party of Orange County Chairman Fred Whitaker has ended the suspension of aid to Lopez:
From the desk of the Honorable Chairman Fred M. Whitaker
Dear Central Committee Members,
Last week I notified you about my decision to suspend candidate aid to Irvine Unified School District Candidate Mark Newgent and Anaheim City Council District 5 Candidate Mark Lopez based on certain allegations made against them. After a careful review of the the available video evidence and facts surrounding the allegations, and in consultation with legal counsel and the Executive Committee, I’ve made a final determination.
Despite Mr. Newgent’s honorable service to our country in the armed forces, it is clear that his video postings are ultimately a reflection of his own thoughts – as opposed to a character or persona as he had claimed. The content of the videos is unacceptable for someone running as the endorsed candidate of the Republican Party of Orange County, especially for a school board. As a result, the suspension of aid to Mr. Newgent remains in effect for the duration of the election cycle. For your reference, links to Mr. Newgent’s video postings can be found below:
With regard to the accusation against Mr. Lopez that he allegedly expressed support for the idea of “Sanctuary Cities” at a recent political forum, it is clear that his comments were taken out of context. A video recording of Mr. Lopez’s comments at the forum, which can be viewed by clicking here and skipping to the 30 minute mark, demonstrates that he opposes the idea of having local police enforce federal law – which is substantively different than calling for Anaheim to become a Sanctuary City. It seems appropriate to note that there are many Republicans that advocate a similar position to what Mr. Lopez stated. Personally, I didn’t find Mr. Lopez’s statement on this issue any more objectionable than the statement from his Republican opponent – Steve Faessel – who declared his support for undocumented immigrants having access to higher education. Ultimately, Mr. Lopez’s stated position does not contradict the party platform. Therefore, the suspension of his candidate aid has been lifted, restoring his access to the Republican Party of Orange County’s resources for Member Communication efforts.
I am confident that we have reached a fair and reasonable conclusion on these matters and appreciate your patience as we worked through the process. Now that we are a week out from election day, I look forward to having you join me in stepping up the party’s efforts to support our targeted candidates and ensure that they are successful on November 8th. Thank you for your service to the Republican Party of Orange County.
Hon. Fred M. Whitaker
Republican Party of Orange County