Republican Latino assemblyman denied entry to Latino Legislative Caucus

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Earlier this month the California Latino Legislative Caucus was praised as an expression of inclusion and opportunity by outgoing Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles). But apparently that diversity does not include Republicans. A Latino Republican state legislator hasn't been allowed to join the Latino Caucus.

At a news conference Tuesday, members of the California Latino Legislative Caucus spoke in Spanish and talked about the upcoming One California event. One Latino member of the Assembly, however, says there is no inclusion for him. He was told he could not be a member.

"I asked to be a part of the Latino Caucus. I assumed I was going to be, but I was told that because I was a Republican I would not be part of the caucus," said California Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (R-Oceanside).

Chavez says he wants to help the Latino community, but the president of the Latino Caucus says Chavez should form his own caucus, a caucus of one.

"There was a Hispanic Republican caucus that we worked with and we've worked well with over the years, and so we are going to encourage him to act as his caucus and we'll continue to work together," said state Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens).

"What is surprising is the Latino Caucus is supposed to fighting against discrimination and now they are discriminating," said Luis Alvarado, a political consultant who says the caucus is a partisan group.

"At taxpayer expense, because us taxpayers pay for the staff that supports the Latino Caucus and their website, so there should be some uproar from the Latino community for this," said Alvarado.

On the website, it says one of the group's principles is to "Encourage more Latinos to engage in the political process." Some members say it's all about the issues that affect Latinos.

"It's about producing and it's about ensuring that ultimately the principles and the values and the issues that we see are important to us. If he recognizes that then I'm OK with him being a member," said Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez (D-Indio).

"It further amplifies the division of this building and we shouldn't be that way. We should look at trying to make the state better," said Chavez.

Chavez hopes there will be more Latino Republicans in the Legislature in the fall so he can then form his own caucus.

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