Audio from Department of Labor representative Dolores Huerta's speech praising Venezualan dictator Hugo Chavez and saying "Republicans hate Latinos," reveals that Huerta's appearance seems to have been supported by Congressman Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ). A representative from Grijalva's office attended and "brought" Huerta to the Aprill 2006 speech, which addressed students at Tucson High Magnet School.
"I would ... like to thank ... our representative from Congressman Raul Grijalva's office, Reuben Reyes; thank you for bringing Dolores here and talking to our students," Sean Arce says during Huerta's introduction. Arce is identified in the audio as a faculty member.
Huerta's appearance garnered state and national media attention. One student, Mon-yee Fung, even appeared in front of state legislators to talk about the event, after Huerta's comments made her uncomfortable but she was not allowed to leave. "I got up a second time and I said, 'Really, I want to go to another class," she told Bill O'Reilly. "I just don't want to hear this anymore." Her teacher responded, "No, just sit back down. Listen to this. It's a really good speech."
While Fung came forward, there are many more who didn't. But since Huerta was "brought" by the Congressman's office, and since a representative was present, impressionable students may have given her statement's more weight. They gave her a rousing applause at the end.
Yet, since the speech, Grijalva continues to be an adamant supporter of Huerta. On August 13 he attended her 80th birthday party and praised her as "the biggest missed opportunity for this nation we've ever seen." And while he loves Huerta "to death," he thinks "the rest of America is missing an opportunity to understand and to believe in a person that is much bigger than the rest of us."
The "missed opportunity" does not keep her political leanings a secret. She is an honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America and after praising dictator Chavez in 2006 for his policies in Venezuela, she asked, "why can't we do that here in the United States?"
When initially approached about Rep. Grijalva's involvement in the speech, Grijalva's communications director Adam Sarvana claimed "we had nothing to do with it; and we had no staff there." He said he called Mr. Reyes (mentioned in the audio) and that Mr. Reyes denied being there. When asked if the Congressman stood behind his statement that Huerta "is the biggest missed opportunity for this nation we've ever seen," he said yes, adding that the Congressman "admirers her."
But later, after hearing the audio, Sarvana admitted that "we must have had someone there." Yet he still would not officially confirm attendance by the Congressman's representative. He agreed to try and "jog" his staff's memory, but has yet to reply with a comment. Questions, then, remain: Does the Congressman support Huerta's comments from that day? Why and how was his office involved in the presentation? Does the Congressman's involvement give Huerta's comments more weight? Due to vacation, the Congressman was unavailable for comment.
Initially elected in 2002, Grijalva is currently running for reelection in Arizona's Seventh Congressional District.
Sarvana talked with The Blaze this morning and stands by his and Reyes's claims that no representative of Congressman Grijalva's office was present at Huerta's speech. Furthermore, Sarvana said that his office did not have anything to do with arranging or bringing Huerta to the event. The person responsible for that, he said, is Prof. Charles Tatum, former dean of the College of Humanities at the University of Arizona. Reyes passed Huerta's number on to Tatum, which is why he and the Congressman were thanked during the introduction, according to Sarvana.
Sarvana added that the Congressman "does not agree with what [Huerta] said and never did." He also doesn't believe that because the Congressman was mentioned during the introduction students are more likely to believe what was said. "High school students are smart enough to know" not to associate the two, he said.