THE BLOG

Let's Win by Scaring Latino Voters!

10/20/2006 06:02 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The 14- year- old loves the O.C. Not the sprawling Southern California Republican stronghold. She's got more sense than that. But the sprawling nighttime TV soap opera about rich teens with problems. Every other week, it seems, someone is entering rehab or being nabbed for embezzlement or corruption.

And those are just the adults.

Come to think of it, sort of like the real Orange County!

Having watched "The O.C." on occasion, I can report that there has yet to be an episode to rival the political scandal I call "Latinogate."

In an effort to intimidate Latino voters in the 47th congressional district, home of The Happiest Place on Earth!, a letter was sent to 14,000 registered Hispanic voters. The letter was written in Spanish, and warned that "if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time...."

Just as reprehensible, the letter also threatened to turn over names of Latino voters to anti-immigrant groups.

Oh, and those voters? They just happened to be Democrats.

Imagine getting that sweet little missive in your mailbox. I don't know about you, but I think I might be inclined to lock the door, pull the curtains and hide out November 7. Even if I was a naturalized citizen who'd been legally voting for years, which many of these folks were.

Who was behind the despicable letter? In the O.C., Republicans have been scrambling to duck responsibility. No surprise there. What with Foley and Hasstert and Abramoff, it's practically become an honorable rite of passage in the GOP. Who me? Never heard a word about predatory behavior! Never even met the lobbyist in the ridiculous hat!

What is surprising in this instance is how easily Republicans turned on one of their own.

But I guess somebody's got to take the fall, right? And who better than another immigrant?

Tan Nguyen, the Republican running against U.S Rep. Loretta Sanchez, was thrown under the bus yesterday after admitting that his campaign office manager had a hand in the letter and firing her. The Big Guns in the GOP in the OC--I'm going to go crazy from all these acronyms here--urged the Vietnamese immigrant to withdraw. This came after the mail house that sent the letter also told the chairman of OC's Republican Party that Nguyen knew about the letter, Nguyen claims he didn't know and has hired a lawyer.

But Republican leaders in the OC never much liked their candidate anyway. Nguyen didn't stand a chance against the hugely popular Sanchez.

In the end does it really matter which Republicans were involved? It's just one more scandal, one more example of how corrupt Republicans have become in their quest for power.

It's also what happens when cynical politicians try to win votes by pitting one immigrant group against another. Sanchez, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, called the whole tawdry episode "sad." But she also urged the county registrar to send another letter to those same Latino voters, containing an apology and encouraging them to go to the polls.

Sending that letter is the least the OC can do.