Cisneros, Schultheis Trade Barbs Over GOP Bid

Gil Cisneros, a leader among local Hispanic Republicans, called State Sen. David Schultheis “an enemy of our community” when the tough-talking immigration hardliner from Colorado Springs sought his endorsement. Schultheis responded by blasting Cisneros for claiming to speak for all Latinos. The man in charge of recruiting Hispanics to the Republican Party in Colorado will not support Sen. David Schultheis in his bid for a national GOP post.

“You have not supported any of the issues of concern to the Hispanic community. Matter of fact, you’ve gone out of your way to be an enemy of our community,” wrote Gil Cisneros, chair of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly of Colorado, in an e-mail to Schultheis rejecting his request for Cisneros’ endorsement.

Schultheis responded by criticizing Cisneros for claiming to speak for all Hispanics.

“For one to believe he/she speaks for any single ethnic group, in my view, exhibits racist beliefs,” wrote Schultheis. “I would no more have the audacity to speak for Caucasians, than for males, or any other group based on their sex, race or other unchangeable characteristic.”

Cisneros has asked the members of his organization to oppose Schultheis’ effort to become the state’s representative to serve on the Republican National Committee. He called Schultheis “as mean spirited as Tom Tancredo, or possibly even worse, if that is possible.”

Cisneros cited the ire raised in 2006 when Schultheis questioned the legal status of the Hispanic victims of a horrific Weld County car accident that claimed the lives of three children, all of whom were U.S. citizens.

Schultheis has made illegal immigration a priority in his legislative career, claiming to spend 60 percent of his time working to combat the problem in Colorado.

“Spending that much time on immigration issues in the state Legislature when the state doesn’t have any jurisdiction over that seems like a complete waste of time to me,” said Cisneros in a phone interview with Colorado Confidential. “If you want an endorsement and to get Hispanic people to vote for you, you have to show some sensitivity, and I don’t think Schultheis has any.”

Schultheis did not return calls and an e-mail requesting comment.

In his e-mailed response to Cisneros, Schultheis said it was an honor to be associated with “a patriot like Tom Tancredo.” He continued, “For individuals to attempt to frame his views as racist or hateful indicates that those individuals actually hold those views.”

Cisneros says that while not everyone in his organization supports his speaking out against Schultheis, he feels strongly that the actions of lawmakers like Schultheis and Tancredo make it harder for him to recruit Latinos to the GOP.

“Every time independents or Democrats think they might change their vote, then Schultheis or Tancredo opens their mouth and we lose those votes.” 

The sharp-tongued letter Tancredo wrote to Mexican President Felipe Calderon following his recent visit to the United States is a case in point, Cisneros says. In the letter, Tancredo blasts Calderon for having the audacity to advise U.S. lawmakers on immigration reform considering Mexico’s own “laundry list of problems.”

It is undeniable that Mexico faces major challenges. Endemic corruption and the power of violent drug cartels still dominate everyday life across Mexico. Beyond the headlines, Mexico has deep institutional maladies. Mexico’s absurdly antiquated Napoleonic-inquisition styled legal system and the squandering of robust energy-industry opportunity by a poorly managed, state-run Pemex monopoly are just two examples of the kind of self-inflicted wounds that hobble your troubled nation.

“Is it any wonder why we can’t get Hispanic voters to vote for the GOP when our leaders put out press releases with this tone?” Cisneros wrote to the members of the RNHA, urging them to register their displeasure with a phone call to Tancredo’s office. “This is offensive!”