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Hispanic Caucus members toil over insult

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070201/ap_on_go_co/congress_hispanic_caucus;_ylt=AnlkzrT5OWcFcm5uQHZ2B0cJKekE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3OXIzMDMzBHNlYwM3MDM- Hispanic Caucus
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2007
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      Hispanic Caucus members toil over insult

      By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 1
      minute ago

      WASHINGTON - Three female members of the Congressional
      Hispanic Caucus accused the organization's male
      leaders Thursday of treating women unfairly. Rep.
      Loretta Sanchez (news, bio, voting record) said the
      caucus chairman called her a "whore."

      Rep. Joe Baca (news, bio, voting record) denied
      uttering the insult, which Sanchez cited among
      grievances that led her to announce this week she was
      quitting the group.

      "Let me be clear: Her comments are categorically
      untrue," said Baca, who like Sanchez is a California

      "He said it. For him to deny it is just a silly
      thing," Sanchez said in an interview.

      She and Rep. Hilda Solis (news, bio, voting record),
      D-Calif., said Baca made the comment at an event in
      Sacramento, Calif., over the summer and that it was
      repeated to them by people they declined to identify.

      "Name-calling never helps anything," said Sanchez,
      adding she confronted Baca about the comment. "He just
      shook for awhile and then he said, 'That's a lie.'"

      The controversy, which became public with a report
      Wednesday on the Web site politico.com about the
      "whore" comment, was the latest evidence of conflict
      between men in the growing caucus and a smaller,
      mostly female contingent.

      Baca was supported by only one of six women in the
      21-member caucus when he was elected chairman in
      November. Solis, Loretta Sanchez and her sister,
      Linda, and Rep. Nydia Velazquez (news, bio, voting
      record) of New York subsequently disputed the election
      procedure and asked for a new secret-ballot vote. All
      caucus members are Democrats.

      Other concerns include Baca's decision to use money
      from the caucus' political action committee to fund
      his sons' unsuccessful campaigns for state office in
      California last year. That led Solis, the Sanchez
      sisters and three other lawmakers to sever ties with
      the fundraising groups.

      There also is a perception among female caucus members
      that their concerns are given short shrift in a caucus
      that — like the Congress as a whole — remains
      overwhelmingly male, despite high profile advances by
      women in Congress.

      "I think there tends to be the sentiment that there
      has to be more work done to improve relationships in
      the caucus and the treatment of women in the caucus,"
      Solis said in an interview.

      "I am waiting to see if the Hispanic Caucus leadership
      will make good on its promise to be more fair and
      inclusive of its Latina members," said Linda Sanchez
      (news, bio, voting record), whose district is near her
      older sister's in Southern California.
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