Americans for Legal Immigration PAC is openly squabbling with former Colorado Congressman and anti-illegal immigration warrior Tom Tancredo over white-power associations ALIPAC says are tainting efforts to organize rallies in support of Arizona’s tough new immigration law.
ALIPAC sent out a newsletter to supporters this week pulling out of a June 5 rally in Phoenix. The group’s director William Gheen, who has battled accusations of racist associations in the past, explained that he had raised concerns with Tancredo about event organizer Dan Smeriglio, an activist with long unabashed ties to “skin heads and Nazis,” as Gheen put it. Gheen said Tancredo couldn’t be persuaded that Smeriglio’s associations posed a problem, so Gheen took the conversation to the public and announced ALIPAC would encourage its national network of supporters not to attend any June rallies in Arizona.
Tancredo told Denver’s Westword Wednesday that Smeriglio seemed like a “nice kid” merely looking for a speaker for the event and so Tancredo agreed. Tancredo said the flap with Gheen was merely personal, that Gheen was retaliating for Tancredo criticizing Gheen’s attack on South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.
Gheen gave a speech earlier this month calling on Graham to come out of the closet and admit his homosexuality. Tancredo said he told Gheen in advance of that speech that it would be a “bullshit” smear and that Gheen should stay focused on immigration policy. Tancredo later asked Gheen to take him off his mailing list, which he said made Gheen go “balisitic.” “That’s what this is all about.”
A May 19 itemized email from ALIPAC details Gheen’s side of the controversy:
Congressman Tom Tancredo is making a huge mistake that can have terrible consequences for our candidates, legislation, and citizen activists fighting against illegal immigration in Arizona and across America…
With the illegal alien supporting La Raza groups throwing the race card at Arizona and all of us speaking out against illegal immigration, it is a big mistake to proceed with a June 5th event in Phoenix, AZ where the ADL, SPLC, National Council of La Raza, and many others have screen shots [a Facebook page linking Smeriglio to skin head and neo nazi music pdf here]…
If you use your mouse wheel to look at page 2 of this screen shot you will see that the June 5th rally organizer supported by Tom Tancredo lists the Swedish Neo Nazi rock group SAGA as his favorite band on the Facebook page being used to organize the June 5th event. There’s lots more evidence than this strong piece if you want to see it.
Tom Tancredo is making a terrible mistake trying to lead people into an event and behind his organizer Dan Smeriglio when Smeriglio has been solidly linked with skinheads and Neo Nazis.
Leading Americans, candidates, groups, and legislators into Phoenix with an organizer with links to Neo Nazis is a disaster in motion and it is very disappointing that Congressman Tom Tancredo would make and even defend such mistakes.
One common misconception we hear is that people feel you can’t control skinheads showing up at events and that fringe elements always show up.
This is not a case of radical groups showing up at events. This is a case of the main organizer for the June 5th rally in Phoenix being documented by both sides of this debate with distinct connections to Neo Nazis and being backed up by retired Congressman Tom Tancredo despite conclusive evidence of Neo Nazi associations.
“How did Dan Smeriglio end up running the June 5th event when ALIPAC had foreknowledge of existing credibility and performance problems?”
To that, we would encourage you to ask Congressman Tom Tancredo because we would have never put Smeriglio in that position based off of our recent and extensive experiences with him. We were discussing going to Arizona in a large coalition and several organizations told us they wanted an event in late June or early July.
The next thing we know, Congressman Tom Tancredo and Dan Smeriglio announce the launch of the June 5th rally without consulting any of the other leaders that were discussing such plans. Smeriglio told us that he had permits and Tancredo’s full backing for the 5th.
Gheen wrote to the Colorado Independent last month to contest a 2008 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center tying ALIPAC to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which has been designated a hate group by the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. Gheen said the connection between the two groups is and has been nonexistent and that the SPLC has smeared his group with its accusations.
“I challenge you to provide one shred of evidence that that is true,” he wrote to the Independent. “This is what is happening, they tell a lie, you repeat the lie to create a layer, and then people think it is legitimate. We are not supported by FAIR and we do not acknowledge FAIR as a hate group as we feel such titles should be reserved for groups that advocate violence based on race.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center did not return calls for comment on the 2008 report and its allegations.