- Associated Press - Friday, July 11, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Republican assemblyman says he was refused membership in the California Latino Legislative Caucus and now the state attorney general has been asked to investigate the group and its policies.

Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, said he was told last year that Republicans are not allowed in the 24-member caucus, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday (https://lat.ms/1kdOMzK ).

That rejection has sparked debate in and out of the Legislature about the diversity of opinion in Latino politics and whether public money should support legislative caucuses that have a partisan agenda, the newspaper said.

Sen. Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, asked the state attorney general to investigate, saying the group’s name implies equal access for all Latino legislators.

“The name Latino Caucus is intentionally misleading, because it implies equal access for all Latino legislators,” Anderson said. “Using taxpayer-sourced, public funds to deny them their voice is wrong.”

Caucus chairman Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, said there is nothing improper about the caucus’ membership policies, which have been in place since the caucus was founded 40 years ago by five Democratic lawmakers.

“It’s not that there is no precedence for this,” Lara said. “You have a Republican Caucus and a Democratic Caucus that have staff.”

Roger Salazar, a caucus spokesman, told the Times that political work is paid for by the caucus’ political action committee, not taxpayer funds. He said the monthly caucus meetings are at a site away from state offices “because in addition to policy discussions, there are also political discussions.”

The attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to Anderson’s request.

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Information from: Los Angeles Times, https://www.latimes.com

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