William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC) may not be the independent crusader he makes himself out to be. But is anyone surprised?
ALIPAC has received regular $5,000 injections from the founder of the Oregon state contact for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) for the past five years. The founder of Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR), Elizabeth Van Staaveren, has given at least $34,700 to ALIPAC since the organization’s founding in 2004. I wonder how OFIR’s peer organization in North Carolina, FAIR state contact NC Listen, feels about being passed over.
Gheen’s financially strapped organization needs all the support it can get—his track record of embarrassing statements keeps him out of favor with the cool kids on the anti-immigrant block. Nor is he that effective: Gheen himself volunteered for Ilario Pantano’s congressional campaign, which failed to advance past the primary; as an organizer, the “national” leader could only muster fifteen protesters against Governor Rick Perry; last year, Gheen attacked the Church of Latter-Day Saints, a regrettable move now that a member of the LDS church is the Republican presidential nominee.
From comparably lofty heights, Gheen’s main weapon is as a quote-source for journalists, offering up plenty of opportunities for him to embarrass himself and the anti-immigrant movement.
While ALIPAC claims to be the “third largest” restrictionist organization in the country, it pales in comparison to FAIR, NumbersUSA, Center for Immigration Studies, or any other organization led or financially connected to FAIR and its founder John Tanton. All three (to use Gheen’s own ranking) independently dwarf ALIPAC in impact, reach, and especially staff. According to documents filed with the FEC for 2011 (accessed through OpenSecrets), Gheen is the only person paid a full-time salary. Gheen paid the only other two staff a meager $2024.10 and $450.98 (both over the course of six months) for their work. Both handled financial documents for the organization.
In short, the only part of ALIPAC in the running for “third largest” anything is Gheen’s own ego. If Gheen really cares about “American jobs,” maybe he should hire a few staff.
Gheen has said that he is “a separate organization that once attended one of FAIR’s events in DC” but that “[he has] never received any support from FAIR.” True as that may be, he can’t survive without FAIR’s network.