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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Politics: Republican Whack-A-Mole Part X

Republicans, we thought, were opposed to illegal immigration. Republicans? Any Republicans out there who would like to go on the record with your opposition to illegal immigration?

Oh, goody, here's John "Tan-in-a-bottle" Boner, setting forth the Republican Party's policy on illegal immigration (From right-wing site PoliPundit, no link):
The Republican Principles are:
  • Republicans strongly support initiatives to secure our borders and provide additional resources to federal and state authorities to strengthen border patrol efforts.

  • Republicans strongly support strengthening enforcement and stiffening penalties for illegal immigrants who break our immigration laws.

  • Republicans support enforcing the law on employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and holding them accountable.

  • Republicans oppose efforts to reward the behavior of illegal immigrants who have made the choice to break our laws.

  • Republicans believe the success of our country depends on newcomers obeying the law, assimilating into American society by learning English, and embracing our common identity as Americans.
So, Mr. Boner, you're saying that stiff penalties should be exacted against Michael Kamburowski, and his employers, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and The California Republican Party? Just want to get that straight.

NOT Michael Kamburowski of the California GOP

Because Mr. Kamburowski (do not see picture above), as we previously blogged when his story first came to light, is a jerk of the not-brown persuasion from Australia who entered the United States on a tourist visa, and had not received legal authorization to work when he somehow managed to land a well-paid gig
from 1995 to 2000 as a vice president of Americans for Tax Reform in Washington, D.C., an organization headed by [Grover] Norquist — an architect of modern conservatism who has advised President Bush and top GOP political leaders
according to an article in today's fishwrap. The article goes on to state that he was also employed as COO of the California Republican Party, although he claims that his immigration status had been "adjusted" to "legal" by that time.

In an aside, we have to ask: What's the matter, Grover, couldn't you find an American to hire for that well-paid, prestigious position? What's the matter, California G.O.P., too busy taking potshots at poor and underpaid brown people to screen your white employees for proof of legal status? Oh, and get this: the son-of-a-thousand and father of none is suing the U.S. gubmint over his illegal immigrant status. His admittedly illegal status:
[...] when he went to work for Norquist, Kamburowski had no legal right to live or work in the U.S., according to documents filed recently in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., in connection with a wrongful-arrest lawsuit he filed against U.S. immigration officials.
Documents filed late last year in the lawsuit — including portions of Kamburowski's own pre-trial testimony — show that he remained in the United States illegally to work for Norquist after he entered the U.S. on a tourist visa.
"I was out of status" when he was hired by Norquist, he testified.
At the time, he said he had a valid work permit when he was hired by state party Chairman Ron Nehring, who has done consulting work with Norquist. Kamburowski refused to discuss his immigration status when he first came to the United States in 1995 and was hired by the Norquist organization.

Get that, farm workers? All you have to do is "refuse to discuss" your immigration status when the immigrasi officials question you. Hey, it worked for Mr. Kamburowski. Just tell the nice guys in uniform that you were "out of status," and they should call the Republican Party of California, or Grover Norquist (Americans for Tax Reform — ATR). They'll cover for you, just like they covered for him, right? Right? Hello?

According to court documents and records cited in articles available at SFGate, Kamburowski, an Australian citizen, arrived in the United States on a pleasure trip on Jan. 23, 1995, and took up residence in Arlington, Va. Two years later, in February 1997, Kamburowski married an American woman. After their wedding, his new wife filed an I-130 form for "Petition for Alien Relative" along with an "Application of Adjustment of Status" with the then-Immigration and Naturalization Service, according to the lawsuit.

The marriage broke up after a year, before the then-INS had processed Kamburowski's wife's petition for his "status adjustment." In April 1998 Kamburowski moved to Washington, D.C., according to court documents.

Another aside: Over at Free Republic, the denizens are speculating on whether Kamburowski's first wife dumped him because he was sleeping around with other men, and if that's why he was, so to speak, "hand-picked" for COO of the California Republican party by Ron Nehring. Yeesh, fellas, it's not always about gay sex, yaknow.

Between 1997, shortly after his marriage, until 2000, Kamburowski said he was executive director of the Norquist-affiliated Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, which aimed to name major monuments after the late president in all 50 states.

According to the article, Norquist's group, like all employers, was required to fill out an Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) and verify Kamburowski's documentation.

In order to live legally in the U.S., you need a document proving your identity, like a valid current passport with a valid visa, showing when you crossed into the U.S. and the date your visa expires; and a green card (permanent resident authorization).

If you don't have both these documents, then you must leave the United States or its territories on or before the date stamped in your visa.

In order to work legally in the U.S., you need some form of employment authorization, such as an H1B or other valid visa, or a green card (permanent resident card) and a Social Security card.

Kamburowski had no green card. This means that when Grover Norquist's group submitted the required I-9 for his employment,
[either] it contained false information, [or the employer ignored the request for valid document numbers, Ed.] said the experts who reviewed the case. Under federal law, employers who hire undocumented workers can be fined, and if they knowingly make false statements about an employee on an I-9 form they can be prosecuted, immigration experts said.
The article also stated that Kamburowski had no Social Security number, according to records. Given that this schmuck worked on immigration policy issues for Norquist's group, you'd think that would have tipped them off, no? Or maybe he just pulled a number out of his ass? Don't these people check?

La Casa de Los Gatos can't wait to hear what happens next. Kamburowski's crimes were uncovered in June of 2007. Has he been arrested? Is he in jail? After all, with valid Australian citizenship and travel papers, he is a flight risk, right? Even DHS thought so, and jailed him, and protested loudly when the immigration judge had him released. Have his employers been fined? Are they about to be prosecuted? Inquiring minds want to know.

The article states that, according to an immigration lawyer the reporters interviewed, I-9 fraud is fairly common. Counterfeit green cards and identity papers are readily available in most cities and out-of-status immigrants who want to work can use them to fill out the forms.

It added that some employers simply ignore the I-9 requirements and verify an employee's right to work without reviewing proper documents.

According to a former employee of Americans for Tax Reform, Kamburowski joined as an intern, subsequently got a full-time job as a policy analyst, and later was promoted to vice president for legislative affairs. In 1998 and 1999, Kamburowski lobbied on many bills involving tax issues. In his resume, he said he also lobbied Congress in support of a measure to make it easier for foreigners to get employment visas in the United States. All foreigners? Or only some foreigners? Isn't there a conflict of interest there? Then there's the matter of Kamburowski's marriages.

According to Kamburowski's lawsuit, the INS began deportation proceedings against him and sent him a notice to appear in court in January 2001. This was probably sometime after his divorce from the spouse who had applied for his status adjustment.

Kamburowski's lawsuit claims that he notified immigration officials of his new addresses, but never received official notice of his coming deportation, which he said was returned unopened to the post office.

We here at La Casa de Los Gatos are quite willing to believe that government bureaucracies are inefficient and can send important information to an incorrect address (although we note that they are very efficient, if you owe them money, at hunting you down and wringing every last drop of blood out of your turnip-like self).

What we are less willing to believe is that someone with a high-profile job and lots of big-shot connections doesn't even bother to check on their status, knowing that if they are found to be residing and working illegally, (a) all the organizations and people they're involved with walk away with major egg on their face, and (b) they lose their cushy little sinecure and get, instead, the boot, as it were, put in.

When the INS sent another surrender notice to a different address, Kamburowski again said it was returned to the post office and he never saw the notice, according to the court documents.

Around May 31, 2001, an immigration judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review in Arlington conducted a removal hearing (even though Kamburowski was not present) and ordered him deported from the United States. Kamburowski claims in his documents that he was never notified of the hearing.

You're working for Grover "drown the Government in the bathtub like a helpless infant" Norquist and you never even bothered to get yourself a lawyer on retainer and pay him or her to check that INS wasn't up to something without your knowing? Given that you had already contracted a marriage, apparently for the purpose of adjusting your status, which marriage had failed? You're not going to check on the status of the petition which could remove all your woes and replace them with little hopping pink bunnies and bouquets of flowers and rainbows? C'MON, fella.

Two weeks later, in June 2001, Kamburowski married another American woman, the court documents state.

Wow, imagine that. Married in 1997, divorced in 1998, threatened with deportation in May 2001 and married in June? My, my, my, how timely and ... fortuitous? Is that the word we want?

Shortly after the second marriage, his new wife filed the same status adjustment papers with the INS as the old, we mean, previous, wife. On Jan. 22, 2004, at his "adjustment of status interview" in the now-reorganized Department of Homeland Security (formerly INS), interviewing officers informed Kamburowski of the standing deportation order filed years before and arrested and jailed him at the Wackenhut Correctional Facility in Jamaica, N.Y.

Kamburowski remained jailed for a month, but nevertheless managed to file a motion to reopen his removal order. As a result, despite the protests of Homeland Security officials who opposed his release on grounds that he posed a flight risk, an immigration judge freed Kamburowski on a $7,500 bond, and let him out of the hoosegow on Feb. 22, 2004.

Interesting. According to the article:
In 2001, he married a U.S. citizen and became a legal U.S. resident, court records show.
So here he is in 2004 being jailed for an outstanding deportation order. At what point did the INS/DHS adjust his status from "illegal alien awaiting deportation on outstanding order" to "legal permanent resident with employment authorization"? Because his "status adjustment" interview took place in 2004, after his marriage, and there is no reason to schedule a status adjustment interview if the interviewee has already received papers confirming their adjusted status, i.e., a green card has made them legal.

Kamburowski filed a $5 million lawsuit in December 2005, charging that the Department of Homeland Security had illegally imprisoned him, and that as a result, he suffered "severe emotional stress and embarrassment" as well as "significant financial hardship" which caused him to lose a job -- charges immigration officials deny in court documents. The case, which is still unresolved, was pending when he obtained his $130,000-per-year post with the state party in March 2007.

Question: Why did he wait for almost two years before filing suit, if he suffered such hardship from his arrest and imprisonment?

According to various posts on Web sites, apart from his illegal employment with Grover Norquist's group, Kamburowski also worked as a real-estate agent for Century21 in New York and for REMax in the Dominican Republic. According to an article in SFGate, Kamburowski's former boss in the Dominican Republic resort town of Punta Cana — where Kamburowski worked until February of 2007 — expressed astonishment that the Australian was hired for such an important financial job in a major political party. (He started working for the California G.O.P. in March of 2007, at an annual salary of $130,000).
"I wouldn't give him my company to run, I can tell you that,'' said Rico Pester, the owner of Re/Max Island Realty in the fashionable Caribbean beach region.

Pester said Kamburowski arrived in Punta Cana in the summer of 2006 and "was so successful that he couldn't sell anything the whole time he was here -- and we provided him with clients. He didn't rent anything and he didn't sell anything. ... I have no idea what he was doing.''

Then, in February, Kamburowski "ran away without mentioning anything to us,'' he said.

"I couldn't understand how somebody like him could become a (Republican Party) COO,'' Pester said in a telephone interview.
Over at TheFlashReport, Jon Fleischman, Vice Chairman South of the California Republican Party, opined in injured tones that he hoped his follow-up to his initial reaction of shock and horror would be a post stating that the SFChronicLiar's top-notch reporters were "100 per cent wrong" about the story. Regrettably (for Republicans), he has not been able to prove them so.

Comments at that site ranged from horrified to hilarious:
Let me get this straight.

Kamburowski didn't divulge his past arrest and circumstances around it to the party?

I do not believe that an arrest in and of itself means anyone is guilty of anything. We do have a presumption of innocence in this country.

However, I find it jaw dropping that he would not disclose this to his potential employer.

Also, if the article is to be believed, he has nothing on his resume for a six year span.

What did he communicate to the party with respect to his resume/experience?

Posted by Joseph Turner at June 24, 2007 11:23am

This happens during job interviews all the time...people lie about their past or keep silent about stuff they don't want employers to know. That's why there's a thing called background checks. It's obvious that the CRP didn't do one on this guy or they didn't dig very deep. What did Ron Nehring know and when did he know it? These not the kind of headlines we need as we go into the 2008 election season.
Posted by Allan Bartlett at June 24, 2007 11:41am

There is something very wrong about Mr. Kamburowski story. I would hope that the CRP Board call an emergency meeting to take action. This will be another week of Jon & Ken and Leno coverage. How does this play with the party faithfull and money types ? If I was Mr. Dodge, I would not hold my breath about getting my money back anytime soon.
Posted by Phil Paule at June 24, 2007 12:27pm

Thanks, Jon for this info. It is clear Kamburowski would not pass the clearance process for a "Schedule C" federal political job in the Bush Administration. Therefore, how could he possibly serve as an executive for CRP? I suspect he has a brilliant personality and BSed his way to the job, with an unfortunate lack of attention to detail in the hiring process. There are plenty of excellent executives who are California natives that are qualified for this job - people with political pedigrees, degrees, AND citizenship. And a background check would be appropriate for all top executives in future.
Posted by JIm Lacy at June 24, 2007 12:54pm

We are just SO awesome...
Posted by Alex Burrola at June 24, 2007 1:21pm

The bad judgement all around here is what's jaw-dropping. If the story is true, then there's only one honorable thing for Ron to do.

We've seen party leaders from the local to the national level sued, picked up for soliciting prostitutes, indicted for various forms of financial corruption, even tossed out of the closet. Embroilment in immigration controversy is an all-new low.

Posted by Anthony Finchum at June 24, 2007 1:30pm

Let me clarify a bit on my comment above: I've hired people before. The process we underwent - and this was for a fairly entry-level job, with no direct access to funds of any kind - included at least two interviews, one of them with other managers participating in the interview; a criminal background check; and a thorough check on references and past employers.

Was there any vetting that took place here - for the most important paid position in the biggest GOP organization in the country below the national level? Any checking of references (beyond those that Kamburowski's boss might have known personally?) One logical progression stands out here: that either a) there was NO criminal background check, b) there was an incompetent criminal background check, or c) there WAS a criminal background check that revealed the problems Marinucci uncovered, and the results were suppressed. To expand on what I stated above, the bad judgement in any of these three possibilities is jaw-dropping.

Posted by Anthony Finchum at June 24, 2007 1:41pm

Received call from the Australian Reporter at SF at my home. I could like to pass the info to you. Sending contact info to


Richard Rios

Posted by Richard Rios at June 24, 2007 2:39pm


Why is the CRP hiring non citizens. The chronicle article also brings up a Canadian that the the CRP requested a VISA for.

What is this?

Posted by Paul Stine at June 24, 2007 3:27pm

There are many aspects that must be considered when hiring for a position at this level. A background check done properly should have been done, that goes without saying. But I have contended before that this action and the subsequent revelations bring more negative attention that could have been realized by his service.

We are entering an election year that in all honesty will be challenging. What could have prompted the oversight of pertinent facts and not hiring a Californian with history and loyalty? It appears short term goals were not decided upon by evaluating risks of party fallout, media attention, and the perception of the voting public.

The apparent fact that Jon found out about this after it was well known at the state level is also discouraging. As the Southern California Chair he should have had intimate details before the press release to the general public so he would respond appropriately.

Richard Rios

Posted by Richard Rios at June 24, 2007 5:46pm

What press release to the general public?
Posted by Barry Jantz at June 24, 2007 6:17pm

"Republicans could screw up a one car funeral".

Willie Lewis Brown

Posted by Bill Cavala at June 24, 2007 7:59pm
We note that today's issue of TheFlashReport didn't comment on Mr. K's problems except to provide a direct link to the SFGate story with, in very small type, the words "Good Grief" below.

Meanwhile, Raul Lowery Contreras had a few things to say over at HispanicVista about Mr. Kamburowski, as well as about Ron Nehring, Chair of the California Republican Party, who hired Kamburowski:
Few remembered that he [Nehring, Ed.] had been fired as Executive Director of the rock solid San Diego Republican Party in 1997 for “poor judgment” and “excessive” expense account spending. Fewer remembered that after he was fired he engineered a coup in the San Diego Party to dump Roxanna Fox as Chairman and the staff she hired because they were too “moderate.” The new majority installed Nehring as Chairman of the very County Committee that had previously fired him.

Heavy hitter San Diego Republican money people abandoned Nehring’s “Party” and focused on the Lincoln Club, a pragmatic money machine that pours hundreds of thousands of dollars into local campaigns. It tells members to leave their social considerations at the door, because “we” are pro-business and free market enthusiasts unencumbered by emotional ideologically baggage.

[...] no viable business experience, jail time for immigration violations and two American wives he “married” (shams?) that filed papers to “legalize” him. It appears that only one person in the entire California Republican Party hierarchy knew about his jail time, lack of business experience and immigration problems and that was the man who hired him, Ron Nehring. Nehring had worked with Kamburowski ten years ago and through 2000, so how could he not have known?
Contreras also asks some pertinent questions, questions that will no doubt embarrass Nehring, his employers, the California Republican Party, and perhaps even the national Republican Party, although after electing such ethical megastars as Tom Delay, Dennis Hastert, Randy Cunningham, and their ilk to various committees with control of the public purse, one is tempted to assume that shame is in short supply at national levels.
We don’t know how he scored a green card without waiting for years like everyone else. [...] we know he was collecting a hefty paycheck far larger than the average paycheck of the average California Republican Party contributor. We don’t know the details of his employment contract. Did he have a “Golden Parachute” to cover a quick getaway as his resignation turns out to be? Why, wasn’t he fired? Why did Nehring allow him to “resign?” Why didn’t Nehring call a news conference so reporters could ask these questions? What is Nehring hiding?
La Casa de Los Gatos would love to hear some of the answers to these questions.

Mr. Contreras then highlights the case of yet another scofflaw hired by the California Republican Party:
Then there is the case of Chris Mathews, a 35-year-old Canadian citizen. He worked for Ron Nehring, according to Nehring, at the San Diego Republican Party just a month after arriving in country, and is now consulting for the state Party and will go to work full-time in October when his new H-1B work visa goes into effect.
La Casa de Los Gatos wants to know what it is with Canadians working in the U.S. as political consultants. We believe there is a Mark Stain who is also a Canadian who opines regularly on the political situation in the U.S. What gives? Wouldn't Mexicans be better as political consultants, given that there is a large Mexican and non-Mexican Hispanic community in the U.S.? At least they have strong ties with not just the legal Spanish-speaking citizens and immigrants, but also with those here illegally, so they could help the U.S. formulate good policy and put it into effect, no?

Oh, wait, they're not white, are they? And most Canadians are. Our bad. We return to your regular quoting of someone else's rant:
He [Chris Mathews, Ed.] currently is working on a NAFTA visa (TN), which takes time to apply for and receive. Question: How did Nehring put Mathews on the San Diego Party payroll just a month after he arrived in country when it normally takes months for such a visa to be applied for and approved? The Nehring story is that Mathews just showed up in San Diego and volunteered for a month, motivated by the Recall of Gray Davis. According to Nehring, he wanted to be part of the Recall, so an impressed Nehring hired him.

Fact: The Recall election was less than 90-days duration with the voting in October (I was an official paid spokesman for the Recall Committee, it did the heavy lifting in the campaign, not Nehring’s or Mathews’ San Diego efforts). The question is how did Mathews secure a legal TN work visa in a matter of days or weeks? With the entire state to visit, how did Mathews wind up in San Diego and not in better known San Francisco or Los Angeles?

Mathews has been approved for an H-1B visa so he can work legally for the Party starting in November as a “deputy party director” (that’s the job title on the application to the Federal Department of Labor).
Ron Nehring, who is, as Nina Simone might say, "a funny man. Funny, funny man." decides to tickle our funnybone with the issuance of a statement that is guaranteed to provoke a gale of belly-laughter:
The decisions to hire Matthews and Kamburowski represent the welcoming values of the Republican Party, the California Republican chairman said. "Our job at the California GOP is to build the most effective campaign organization,'' Nehring said. "And the fact that we have two people on staff who want to become Americans ... is a great story that is at the heart of what the Republican Party is all about."
Mr. Nehring, could you print up some flyers with that statement to be dropped over villages on the Mexico-U.S. border? Because, from what we can tell, you and your party have not been so welcoming to those of the BROWN persuasion.

A search on Kamburowski reveals some very interesting articles authored by him, which we will not highlight here for lack of space and time.

As for Chris Mathews, the WaPoo has some interesting observations on his political experience. Meanwhile, the newspapers in Mr. Kamburowski's home country have reported his, let's call them experiences, in his country of adoption.
Republican Party figures, however, wondered how Kamburowski could be hired to such a high-profile position in America's largest state's Republican Party.

Steve Schmidt, who ran Schwarzenegger's recent re-election campaign, described Kamburowski's appointment as "almost a parody of incompetence and malfeasance".

"Somebody who has been imprisoned, faced deportation, has never worked on a state political campaign ... and who is suing the government for harm inflicted by his deportation order defies description," Mr Schmidt told the Chronicle.
The New York Sun highlighted a response by Mr. K to the self-created foofaraw:
In an e-mail to Republican leaders a few days ago, Mr. Kamburowski said the flap was unwarranted. "When we promote individuals who have displayed great skills but who just happen to hail from another country, we are pegged as hypocrites," he complained. "No one ever raised eyebrows when James Carville and other Democrat operatives traveled to Israel, the U.K., and elsewhere to lend their political skills to foreign political campaigns."
Luckily, unlike their Republican constituents and legislators, the two Republican presidential candidates favour a kinder, gentler approach. According to IRC Americas,
McCain and Huckabee both favor temporary work programs, and Huckabee's advocacy of tuition support for the children of undocumented immigrants ...
We suspect, however, that their generosity of spirit will not sit so well with the Republican rank and vile.

Casa de Los Gatos confesses to having good friends of the Republican persuasion. We hope that they will retain their sense of humour and find the amusement in this post. We also admit to planning to skewer the Democrats and, yes, Independents, Progressives, and people of all political stripe. We just haven't gotten around to it yet.

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At 8:46 AM, Blogger Rightwingsnarkle said...

Immigration laws?!?

C'mon, man, laws are for chumps. We're talking about repubs and a white english-speaking guy here.

Nothing to see. Move along.

At 9:00 AM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Really. What was I thinking?

Thanks for coming by!


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