Josephine Hearn, The Politico, Jan. 31, 2007
Rep. Loretta Sanchez has quit the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, accusing the chairman, Rep. Joe Baca, of telling people she’s a “whore.”
Baca denied the charge.
In an interview with The Politico Wednesday, Sanchez, a California Democrat as is Baca, also cited concerns about whether Baca was properly elected Hispanic Caucus chairman in November and about his general attitude toward female lawmakers. The caucus represents 21 Hispanic Democrats in Congress.
“I’m not going to be a part of the CHC as long as Mr. Baca illegally holds the chair … I told them no. There’s a big rift here,” Sanchez said. “You treat the women like shit. I have no use for him.”
In a statement to The Politico, Baca said Sanchez “has decided to resign from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), and has chosen to air baseless statements. Let me be clear; her comments are categorically untrue.”
Sanchez voted against Baca in the election for chairman in November. Four other female lawmakers abstained from the vote, raising concerns about whether the election followed proper procedures.
The Sanchez withdrawal is a blow to Baca and his allies who have been trying to bring the caucus back together after a series of internal spats last year. Many of the more junior members and the women have butted heads with him and senior lawmakers.
Last February, six members withdrew from the group’s political action committee after Baca and his allies authorized political contributions to family members who were running for state and local offices.
Sanchez was among that group of defectors, which also included her sister, Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., and Democratic Reps. Dennis Cardoza of California, Jim Costa of California, Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona and Hilda L. Solis of California.
Sanchez and other female CHC members have repeatedly complained that Baca and some of his male colleagues do not accord them a high level of respect.