How Walmart, ExxonMobil, and Coke Buy Latino Friends in Congress

obama chci gala

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco

Here’s a biting piece published this week by Mother Jones that takes a chomp at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. It accuses the CHCI of influence peddling to raise funds:

Housed in an ivory-colored brick office building a few blocks north of the US Capitol, the CHCI hosts dozens of events each year. Its public policy conference and awards gala, held duringNational Hispanic Heritage Month, “represent the largest and most prestigious gathering of Hispanic leaders in the nation,” the institute’s website boasts. Corporate or union sponsorship packages for CHCI events range from a few thousand dollars to $300,000. The more you give, the more you get to hobnob with CHCI’s network of legislators and other Latino leaders.

Yet, the piece, written by Andy Kroll, can’t take it’s shot without first setting up the target.

For a company wanting to endear itself to the Latino community’s political leaders, now is an especially smart time to give. As the nation’s Latino population grows, so, too, does the clout of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, described by one expert as “the vanguard of this growing [Latino] power” in America.

The article draws the obvious line: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has the power, but because of new ethics rules, lobbyists must go through the non-profit CHCI to donate and hob-nob – “trading on it’s ties to congress,” as the article puts it.

The balance comes from the CHCI’s CEO, Esther Aguilera who defends the practice by saying that her organization doesn’t work on policy  but instead provides scholarships and job opportunities. And as for the money, “Thank god for the private sector for supporting this community and other communities. Certainly, the charitable and philanthropic foundations are pitiful right now,” she said.

You can read the full story HERE or by clicking on the picture.

[Photo of President and Mrs. Obama at CHCI Gala courtesy CHCI]

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