Latino leaders: Email leak 'hurt the party'

Latino leaders: Email leak 'hurt the party'
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Latino Democrats say they hope the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) efforts to clean house and move forward from the “distraction” of leaked emails by showing several top staffers the door this week will allow the party to focus on getting Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHarris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote 2020 Dems break political taboos by endorsing litmus tests MORE into the White House — and making sure other Democrats win in November.

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“Any time negative comments are made public, it’s not a good thing. It’s unfortunate that anybody would write these kinds of emails, but the possibility of change for our community is held in high regard by more than just a few people,” said Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, the country’s only Latina Democrat in a statewide elected office.

“You have to move to the bigger picture, and the bigger picture here is that we have stark differences between a few staffers making comments and having your presidential nominee, like the Republicans do, make absolutely atrocious and disparaging comments about everyone who is not him,” Gorbea said.

“The emails hurt the party. There were things said and written down that should have never been said and written down,” added Democratic strategist Melisa Díaz.

“It was very poor judgment to do that, but the party’s outreach to the Latino community is much bigger, much deeper and much more significant than some emails."

She continued, saying that "from now until Election Day, there are many other issues to discuss, and the emails will be less and less important as time goes on. What the party needs to do is focus on voter outreach and mobilization."

The email brouhaha began shortly before the Democratic convention, when Wikileaks published more than 20,000 emails from seven top staffers. In the aftermath, three people lost their jobs, including communications director and chief spokesman Luis Miranda. 

Miranda was caught up in the uproar because he wrote nearly half of those missives, some of which came under heavy criticism. 

In one email, Miranda said immigrant groups were being “irresponsible” in demanding that unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America be granted temporary protected status.

Another tried to spin the Obama administration’s latest rounds of deportations. That brought a sharp rebuke from Casa de Maryland, the Washington area’s largest immigrant advocacy group, which sent a complaint letter to interim DNC Chairwoman Donna Brazile requesting that Miranda be fired. 

“While we understand that these emails were not meant for public consumption, they indicate a lack of understanding of our immigrant community and those who fight for it,” said the letter by Executive Director Gustavo Torres.

“It’s incredible that someone who purports to stand in our corner like Miranda could characterize the leadership and years of work our organization has given to immigrant causes as self-serving and irresponsible. To suggest that we would call for an action that would put immigrants in harm’s way is ludicrous. These are words we could expect from our Republican rivals, not from our allies.” 

In another email with a colleague asking about speechwriters for the convention, Miranda shot down several Democratic consultants, calling into question their bilingual language skills and their party loyalty.

One of them, Lorena Chambers of the group Chambers Lopez Strategies in Washington, D.C., told The Hill she was shocked and saddened by the email.

“It is deeply disappointing and heartbreaking that a DNC employee chose to offer unsolicited and untruthful statements about Latino operatives who have worked steadfastly for almost two decades supporting and defending the Democratic Party and our nominees,” she said.

“Having worked with Donna Brazile, I know she wouldn’t support secretly disparaging Latino operatives and consultants, especially when Latino votes are absolutely required to win office from the top to the bottom of the ticket.” 

But Chambers said she’ll still work to ensure a Democratic win in November.

“Despite the unmerited smear, we will not be distracted from doing the hard work to elect Hillary Clinton, Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran Senate passes bill to undo tax increase on Gold Star military families MORE, and all other Democrats in November.”

The emails also include a profanity-laced back-and-forth between colleagues and another Latino staffer, media booker Pablo Manriquez, who is currently with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, over a television interview scheduled for then-DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Other emails written by staffers have been criticized for labeling Latino voters as a “brand” and using the phrase “taco bowl outreach,” which party insiders say actually refers to answering a Cinco de Mayo tweet of GOP nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE that included an image of him eating a taco salad.

For Latino party loyalists, the email controversy has been blown way out of proportion. 

“Those DNC emails related to Latino outreach have been taken out of context by the media. If read carefully, the party merely seeks to communicate Trump’s disrespect for Hispanics and [the DNC] efforts to cement the loyalty Democrats as a party have built among this critical constituency,” said Federico de Jesús, principal at FDJ Solutions in Washington, D.C., and a former Democratic congressional staffer. 

Republican Latinos, however, said Democrats are just trying to sugarcoat the issue. 

“Now with what has been made public, the Hispanic community understands that Hillary Clinton and her party panders to them for political purposes,” said Carlos Mercader, deputy director of the advocacy group Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles. 

“It demonstrates the hypocrisy of the Democrats when they try to portray themselves as being very sensitive with minorities, when all it seems to be is mostly a show for political gain.”  

Patricia Guadalupe is a contributing writer for Latino Magazine.