Last June, I noted the mortifying open-borders debacle in the California Republican Party. Michael Kamburowski, an Australian immigrant who served as the California Republican Party’s chief operating officer, resigned last summer after the SFChron reported that he had been “ordered deported in 2001, jailed in connection with the order, and [had a] $5 million wrongful arrest lawsuit pending against U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials.” Clueless GOP officials put Kamburowski in charge of the multimillion-dollar budget of the nation’s largest state Republican Party.
At the time of the resignation I wondered: Who was behind Kamburowski’s appointment? Did he have White House connections?
A former California Republican Party official who resigned last year in a controversy over his immigration status had no valid visa or work permit during his high-profile career as a Washington lobbyist for conservative icon Grover Norquist, newly filed court records show.
Michael Kamburowski, an Australian citizen who served briefly as chief operating officer of the state GOP, worked from 1995 to 2000 as a vice president of Americans for Tax Reform in Washington, D.C., an organization headed by Norquist – an architect of modern conservatism who has advised President Bush and top GOP political leaders.
For Norquist, Kamburowski lobbied Congress on dozens of issues, including immigration reform, according to his resume. He also directed the Norquist organization’s Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, an effort to rename public buildings to honor the former president. But when he went to work for Norquist, Kamburowski had no legal right to live or work in the U.S., according to documents filed recently in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., in connection with a wrongful-arrest lawsuit he filed against U.S. immigration officials.
Adam Radman, a communications director at Americans for Tax Reform, responded to requests for comment Wednesday with an e-mail referring all questions to Kamburowski. Kamburowski’s lawyer, Michael DiRaimondo, didn’t return a reporter’s phone call.
Kamburowski quit his post with the state GOP in June after The Chronicle disclosed that he had sued the federal officials who jailed him in 2004 in an attempt to deport him.
At the time, he said he had a valid work permit when he was hired by state party Chairman Ron Nehring, who has done consulting work with Norquist. Kamburowski refused to discuss his immigration status when he first came to the United States in 1995 and was hired by the Norquist organization. But documents filed late last year in the lawsuit – including portions of Kamburowski’s pre-trial testimony – show that he remained in the United States illegally to work for Norquist after he came to this country on a tourist visa.
“I was out of status” when he was hired by Norquist, he testified.
Is it any wonder conservatives are fed up with party leadership? These people are incompetent, sloppy, arrogant–and they couldn’t care less about following immigration laws.
And this is no coincidence: Republican Party registration is down in California. The party is in turmoil and in debt as it heads into its annual spring convention. Via the SacBee, the California GOP will decide whether to hold to a conservative agenda or turn into a California Democrat Party-lite:
The California Republican Party once again faces an identity crisis heading into its annual spring convention, and this time a major donor is calling on the party to become more inclusive.
Businessman Lawrence K. Dodge delayed writing a check to help the party pay off $3 million in debt and wrote a scathing analysis of the party in a private letter, raising concerns similar to those cited by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger when he said Republicans were “dying at the box office” last year.
The internal strife comes as state records show the party continues to suffer a decline in registration and carry a debt incurred to help Schwarzenegger win re-election in 2006.
Taking place in San Francisco, where GOP registration is a mere 10 percent, this weekend’s Republican convention lacks the relative star power of recent state party meetings. The last three featured presidential candidates John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. Schwarzenegger also will be absent due to scheduling issues, according to spokesman Aaron McLear.
McCain, the almost certain GOP nominee, hopes to capture the same Republican, independent and moderate Democratic support in California that Schwarzenegger received in his two gubernatorial victories. But the state party, Dodge noted in his letter, has alienated independents and moderate voters in recent years.
In the letter to party Chairman Ron Nehring, Dodge wrote: “Two-thirds of the voters of this state refuse to be members of our party as it is. We do not need to alienate them further, either by the positions we take or by eating our own in public.”
Delegates will decide this weekend on a new platform for the state party. Moderates and conservatives have been lobbying Republicans in recent weeks to support their respective versions.
The moderate platform follows through on Schwarzenegger’s call last year for a version that concentrates on fiscal responsibility and low taxes with centrist positions on social and environmental issues.”I think people are ready for a cohesive, unifying platform, and that’s what ours is,” said Virginia Chang Kiraly, 44, a Menlo Park Republican who is spearheading that effort. “It’s not offensive, it’s not strident, it’s not divisive, and I think that’s why we’ve had such broad support.”
The conservative proposal likewise is heavy on fiscal responsibility. But it also has strong language opposing the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, condemns Roe v. Wade, defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and declares that government documents should be printed only in English. Mike Spence, head of the conservative California Republican Assembly, said of the moderate proposal that “Hillary Clinton could say every word in it and agree with 80 percent of it.” He also called Dodge’s letter, particularly his call for a toned-down platform, a “blackmail threat.”
…”We’ve been having discussions not only about retiring our 2006 debt obligation, but also making sure we have all the pieces in place to compete in California this fall,” Nehring said. “We have something now that we didn’t before, which is a presidential candidate who says he intends to compete here in California.”
Records show Republican registration in the state has dropped from 35.6 percent to 33.3 percent since 2004 as more voters seek independent status unaffiliated with any party. Democrats suffered only a 0.2 percent decline over the same period.
Move to the center? Become more like Democrats? Join the global warming fear-mongering crowd? Adopt “centrist” social positions? Marginalize conservatism as “divisive” and “strident?”
Yeah, that’ll boost GOP donations and registrations! Where’s my upside-down elephant? Oh, yeah. There it is: