Washington Prowler

Tancredo’s Dubious Allies

Opposition to immigration can involve advocacy of repulsive policies.

By 1.15.07

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Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) is expected to announce the formation of an exploratory committee to seek the candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. "He's going to paint himself as a mainstream conservative," says the staffer for one of Tancredo's colleagues in the House of Representatives. "But the folks he's associating with are not part of the mainstream."

Tancredo, who came to national prominence on the basis of his tough stands on immigration reform, an issue he has pressed for quite some time. "There is more to Tancredo than just immigration," says another House staffer. "If he does this, he's going to try to appeal to a broader, socially conservative audience."

In fact, it's not clear Tancredo is in line with the mainstream, social conservative wing of the GOP he seeks to align himself with. According to campaign finance reports, one of Tancredo's biggest financial backers has been the family of Dr. John Tanton, the founder of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Wall Street Journal editorial-page features writer Jason Riley wrote a devastating piece about the organization back in 2004, in which the group's pro-abortion and pro-eugenics roots were revealed.

Tanton is also one of the most prominent conservative financiers of Planned Parenthood in the United States, having helped found in the mid-1960s the first Planned Parenthood chapter in northern Michigan.

Tancredo appears to have embraced FAIR's extreme and repugnant policy positions, having accepted more than $20,000 from the FAIR PAC and personal donations from Tanton between 1996 and 2006. Over the past ten years, according to Federal Election Commission reports, FAIR has provided more than $15,000 to Tancredo campaigns and PACs. Tanton has given Tancredo $7,000, while donating $28,000 to FAIR's political action arm.

"There are others out there who are prepared to be tough on immigration policy," says a consultant for Republican House member from a western state. "Republicans and social conservatives need to be asking Tancredo some tough questions. I don't believe he's a pro-life candidate, not by a long shot, and the people he's associated with, who back him, are not part of the mainstream. To disavow these people now is just too late."

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