Are Latinos the GOP’s New Gays, and is an “Illegal” the New Willie Horton?

Enough race-bating; it is time for some facts.

Rick Perry’s latest TV campaign salvo — and expect to see it all over the airways until Nov. 2 because he’s got millions of corporate money in the bank — features Joslyn Johnson, who’s husband Rodney, a Houston Police Department officer, was murdered by Juan Leonardo Quintero, an unauthorized immigrant in 2006. Quintero, whom Johnson stopped for speeding, produced an expired driver’s license and was arrested, patted down and handcuffed before he was placed in the back seat of Johnson’s patrol car. But he reached around his body, retrieved a 9mm pistol Johnson obviously missed, and shot him in the back of the head.

There are a few important details to consider.

Quintero had been convicted in 1999 of fondling a 12-year-old girl. He was convicted and his name was added to the state’s registry of sex offenders. After he was deported, however, his name was removed from that registry, a policy that the Texas Department of Public Safety continued to practive until shortly after Johnson’s death, in 2006.

In the ad, Johnson’s widow tries to tie Bill White to her husband’s demise because Quintero was an “illegal” who she — and Perry — assert, are supported by Bill White.

But there are other important factors to consider. The shooter, now convicted and serving life, had an expired Texas driver’s license that he was apparently allowed to keep after being kicked out of the country. And his name had been removed from DPS’s sex-offender data base, in accordance with the then-policy of an agency all of whose directors had been appointed by Perry.

Two weeks after Johnson’s death, Houston Mayor Bill White’s Andy Kahan, the mayor’s Crimes Victims Director sent a letter to the DPS chief, Col. Thomas A. Davis, noting that “there is no legitimate reason” for the DPS to remove the names of deported immigrants from public records, especially those such as sex offenders registries and other lists of criminals.

Shortly thereafter, the names of more than 2,000 deported sex offenders’ names were restored to the registry after DPS changed its policy. Other questions, however, arise as well. Were he properly trained and following procedure, how did Officer Johnson happen to miss a 9mm handgun on the shooter’s person during a pat-down? And why did Perry, who appoints the commissioners of the DPS, allow the department to callously discard the names of criminals who were deported?

Now, as early voting in heavily Democratic areas are being recorded, Gov. Good Hair springs this cynical October half-truth surprise on us, and exploits the widow of a fallen lawman to win yet another term.

This is more than a bit over the top.

[Image via Torn; Video via LiberalBillWhite]

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