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October 30, 2014

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GOP backpedaling after Minutemen e-mail

The state Republican Party put itself in an awkward spot Wednesday by sending out an e-mail invitation to a Minutemen event with the subject line: "Help Stop the Illegal Invasion."

The invitation to Saturday's Minutemen rally at Flamingo and Paradise roads took particular aim at "Un-American companies" including Chicago Title, Miller Brewing and Wells Fargo. The latter has supported Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., in his campaign for governor.

"We will not permit (them) to promote and financially support the takeover of America by the Illegal Invaders," the flier read.

The mailing threatened to alienate the party's business community and Hispanic voters, as well as those who want nothing to do with a group such as the Minutemen, an anti-illegal immigrant group that sometimes patrols the border without government sanction.

Steve Wark, a former Nevada Republican Party chairman, called the mailing a "fundamental error in judgment."

Chris Gulugian-Taylor, the state party executive director, said the e-mail was sent out as a courtesy to the Minutemen in recognition of their work for GOP candidates and does not imply party support for the rally.

The Minutemen "do a lot of volunteer work for Gibbons, (Sen. John) Ensign and the Republican ticket," Gulugian-Taylor said. "They're having a rally, and they asked us to send it out on their behalf. We did it for them. It came out with our return address, but it's not an endorsement."

The Republican Party already is in an awkward position on immigration as it tries to placate its conservative base, which is enraged by illegal immigration, while also supporting President Bush, who has taken a more moderate position, calling for a guest-worker program and some path to citizenship for the country's 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants.

Gulugian-Taylor said it's common for the party to support affiliated groups such as College Republicans or women's groups. Wark, though, said it's not the same because the Minutemen are not affiliated with the Republican Party.

Some Hispanic activists reacted angrily. Alex Garza, a Realtor and Hispanic Republican whom Gibbons has brought to the podium more than once on the campaign trail when trying to reach out to Hispanic groups, called the e-mail "ridiculous."

"It's disappointing to me as a minority when they support blatant discrimination, and I don't think it represents the entire party's viewpoint," Garza said.

Garza, whom Gibbons has referred to as an example of Hispanic achievement, noted that his parents entered the country from Mexico illegally, eventually becoming citizens.

"I am the anchor child they (groups such as the Minutemen) talk about," he said.

Garza added that the move was a step backward in the effort to make Hispanics trust the Republican Party, which he sees as "becoming more accepting of minorities" overall.

At its convention this year, Nevada Republicans passed a platform plank that would have ended citizenship for children born in the United States if they were born to illegal immigrants. Gibbons and some other Republicans distanced themselves from the plank.

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