The LA Chamber Of Capitulation, The Alien Bar Association, And A Democrat Dirty Deal

I`ve had the most
fascinating week! My journey started out
innocently (for a VDARE.COM columnist, that is)
when I wondered how our beleaguered California
Governor Gray Davis would treat S.B. 60—the

Gil Cedillo
bill to allow illegal aliens to
get driver`s licenses.

But an unexpected fork in the road
took me not to Sacramento but instead to the

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
and to the Los
Angeles law offices of

Manatt, Phelps and Phillips
where the LA Chamber`s
Board Chairman

George Kieffer
is a partner. Finally, by week`s end,
I found myself on the doorstep of Los Angeles

James (“Los Angeles is a Mexican city“) Hahn.

Along the way, to make my week even
more interesting, I detoured to the Chicago headquarters
of the

American Bar Association
and to its

Commission on Immigration Policy, Practice and Pro Bono

in Washington DC.

Early in my research on S.B. 60, I
discovered that the LA Chamber has thrown its
considerable weight behind Cedillo`s bill. And right up
front leading the parade is Chairman Kieffer.  (“Driver
License bill gathering support,”
by Rick Orlov
and Hector Gonzales, Whittier Daily News, May 30,

Two things immediately struck me:

  • Is it ethical (or legal for that matter)
    for Kieffer – who, as a lawyer, is “an officer of the
    court” – to be shamelessly shilling for state legislation
    that subverts federal law? (Illegal aliens are, after
    all, illegal).

  • What does the LA Chamber care about
    driver`s licenses for illegal aliens anyway? Social
    issues are not its bag.

On the first question, I enlisted
the help of my friends and VDARE.COM colleagues

Howard Sutherland

Juan Mann
. Sutherland and Mann, both lawyers, took a
dim view of Kieffer`s promotion of S.B. 60. They agreed
that such behavior violated the spirit of the law, if not
the letter of the law.

We all concluded that any discussion
about undermining federal immigration law had to begin
and end with U.S. President George W. Bush.

My curiosity aroused, I wondered if
the ABA had any thoughts on the subject of members who
promote specific state legislation that erodes federal
law. I called the ABA headquarters in Chicago to speak
with Beth Akins [email
] who is

as the contact for state and local government

But Akins is not a lawyer. She told
me she would have someone from the ABA`s Commission on
Immigration Policy answer my inquiry.

And shortly thereafter, a spokesman
(who asked that her name not be used) did call to advise
me that the Commission`s director (who does not give
press interviews and also did not want her name used)
recommends that those seeking information regarding S.B.
60 contact – wait for it! –  the

National Immigration Law Center
or Michele Waslin at

National Council of La Raza

Waslin [email
] actually wrote La Raza`s

“issue brief”
on the driver`s license controversy.

Does “ABA” really stand for

Alien Bar Association
? [ask

Somehow, I suspected that
conversations with the National Immigration Law Center or
La Raza about Kiefer`s ethical conflict would not be

So I turned my attention to my
second question: Why does the LA Chamber give a hoot
about S.B. 60 anyway?

According to the LA Chamber`s Vice
President of Marketing and Communications Robin Ritter
Simon [email
], the Chamber has become much more active

social issues
in recent years.

Furthermore, Ritter Simon told me
that the Chamber`s LA Business Climate Committee and its
Public Safety Committee support S.B. 60. Among the
reasons given: if illegal aliens obtain driver`s
licenses, they will be able to get insurance.

Hmm. Two problems:

  1. If the
    LAACC enthusiastically backs SB 60, why isn`t it listed
    on its website along with the other legislation it
    endorses? Look in vain for SB 60 under “Chamber
    Issues on State Legislation
  2. If illegal aliens would buy automobile insurance
    when licensed, why aren`t California insurance
    companies touting S.B. 60?

because the aliens may not buy insurance anyway
California State Automobile Association spokesman
Jennifer Mack told me that no insurance company has come
out in support of S.B. 60. Apart from anything else, even
the premiums available through the

California Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program
beyond the reach of low-income drivers. (Another
detriment: the low cost program is available in Los
Angeles and San Francisco only.)

Still seeking a sensible answer
about why the LA Chamber backs S.B. 60, I attempted to
contact Chairman Kieffer directly. But none of my
numerous phone calls and e-mails (to
) were returned.

Nor did I get any response from LA
Chamber staffer Brendan Huffman, who is responsible for
the Business Policy and the Public Safety Committees.

Since none of the major players
cooperated, I was left to sort it out for myself. That
task proved a breeze.

The reality is that the LA Chamber`s
grass-roots membership is not tossing and turning at
night about driver`s licenses for illegal aliens.

But pushing SB 60 through would be a
feather in LA Mayor Hahn`s cap. His relationship with
Cedillo would be aces.

And Hahn, you can be sure, wants
badly to stand tall among Latinos. A young, ambitious
Democrat with

deep roots
in California politics, Hahn can look
ahead to see three juicy political plums

for picking: the

Barbara Boxer`s U.S. Senate seat in
2004; Dianne Feinstein`s Senate seat in 2006 (she`ll be
70); California`s governorship (Gray Davis will be
out—mercifully – because of term limits) in 2006.

Now if Hahn helps Cedillo, isn`t
turnabout fair play?

Should Hahn have the Latino Caucus`
full support and blessing in a forthcoming Senate or
gubernatorial race, he`ll be half way home.

And who better to help Hahn deliver
SB 60 on a silver platter than George Kieffer – Hahn`s
friend and

former campaign political advisor

After crafting Hahn`s mayoral
victory, Kieffer continued to play a role in his
administration. Kieffer chaired, at Hahn`s request, the

Los Angeles Economic Impact Task Force

What—if anything—is in this for

Who knows?

But Kieffer appears to be
prostituting the 115-year old Los Angeles Area Chamber of
Commerce [warn
] for his own political purposes.

He`s made it the Los Angeles Chamber
of Capitulation.

[For a
patriotic view of the driver`s license controversy, see

Coalition for a Secure Driver`s License

Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English at the Lodi
Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column
since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.