From the Right



Hispanic organizations court Trump, wind up with scandal

Ruben Navarrette Jr. on

SAN DIEGO -- One of my Mexican grandfather's favorite sayings was: Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres. Simply put, people judge you by the company you keep.

When we last tuned in to the sad but predictable telenovela starring Javier Palomarez, the president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was taking fire from Hispanics for keeping company with President Trump.

Once an outspoken backer of Hillary Clinton, Palomarez went from publicly mocking Trump during the election to later meeting with Trump staff at the White House. At one point, Palomarez claimed that he had been invited to join the White House's diversity council. The administration denied this. And when Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Palomarez resigned in protest from a council that it's not clear he was ever part of.

Still, Palomarez was good at promoting Palomarez. So good that some thought he might be offered a position with the Trump administration.

It would have been a pay cut. In 2015, Palomarez's reported compensation - including bonuses - was $611,015.

But suddenly that government job looks pretty good. Amid accusations of sexual harassment and financial impropriety -- which came to light after a messy extramarital affair with a Latina businesswoman who sat on the USHCC board -- Palomarez has been ousted.

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And the reputation of the country's oldest Hispanic business group -- which claims to represent 4.4 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States that contribute at least $700 billion annually to the U.S. economy -- is in shambles.

You can chalk this up to the #MeToo movement, if you like. But Palomarez's troubles began when he got too close to Trump, which opened him up to heightened scrutiny.

A little context. For Hispanics, these are not normal times, and this is no ordinary president. Having gone out of his way to woo white voters by antagonizing America's largest minority, Trump is to Hispanics in 2018 what Alabama Gov. George Wallace was to African-Americans in the 1960s.

Thus any Hispanic who aligns himself with Trump sacrifices his credibility and distances himself from the community.


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