POLITICS

Latino nonpartisan super PAC names three Clinton supporters as first co-chairs

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Viverito-Mark, Rep. Joaquin Castro

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Viverito-Mark, Rep. Joaquin Castro  (Getty)

Three prominent Latinos who are part of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign have been named as the first co-chairs of a super PAC for an organization co-founded by actress Eva Longoria.

The Latino Victory Fund, which is officially nonpartisan, says in its mission that it aims to bolster the number of Latinos running for and elected to office, and the number of Latino voters.

The new co-chairs of the Latino Victory Fund are Democrats U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Latino Victory noted in its announcement about the appointments that Castro's role "will be limited to the activities of the Latino Victory Fund's federal account, which raises funds solely within federal campaign finance law limits and restrictions to make direct contributions to candidates."

Latino Victory has vowed to call out candidates running for public office at all levels of government whose views and rhetoric it deems detrimental to Latinos.

In September, the Latino Victory Fund ran an ad highlighting controversial comments Republican presidential candidates made in reference to Latinos.

It included Donald Trump’s remark about how Mexico was dumping “rapists” and “criminals” along the U.S. border, Jeb Bush’s use of the term “anchor babies” to refer to children born in the United States to undocumented parents and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s defense of the term.

One actor featured in the ad, which appeared in English and Spanish, says: “This is hate. If we don’t stand up, who will?” Across the screen appeared: “Latino Victory Project: Republicans are Talking #LatinosListen” It ended with a message that Latinos need to register to vote.

Some Republicans, including the Republican National Committee, have taken aim at the Latino Victory Project, saying that although it describes itself as nonpartisan, its leadership and leanings tend to be Democratic.

“Latino Victory Project is a deeply partisan organization that is packing its leadership with Clinton supporters," said Ruth Guerra, RNC Director of Hispanic Media, to Fox News Latino. "LVP has no shame and clearly plans to mislead the Latino community this election just like Hillary Clinton.”

LVF president Cristóbal J. Alex defended the group from claims it was partisan.

"Latino Victory Fund will support candidates based on their positions on issues we believe are important to the Latino community, not based on party affiliation,” he told Fox News Latino. “The RNC has been slow to respond and condemn attacks against our community. Rather than focusing their attention on us, an organization working to empower Latinos and increase Latino representation, they should look in the mirror and deal with the skeletons in their closet.” 

The group’s leaders have said that the organization wants to address issues of particular importance to Latinos, such as immigration, healthcare, and education, and will back candidates and elected officials – regardless of party affiliation – whose views and policies on such matters best serve the interests of Latinos.

In the summer, it hosted its first fundraiser for a GOP candidate, Raul Danny Vargas, who was running for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates. But later it rescinded its support, saying it would not have held the June fundraiser if they had known that Vargas opposes an executive order by President Barack Obama that gives temporary relief from deportation to undocumented parents of people who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.

As for the new chairs, Villaraigosa is a surrogate for the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, Castro has campaigned for Clinton, whom he endorsed for president last year, even before she announced she was running, and Viverito is campaigning for the former Secretary of State.

Joaquin Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, who is the head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, recently endorsed Clinton. He told reporters his endorsement of her was based in part on the long-time relationship that he and his brother have had with Clinton.

In a statement, Villaraigosa said he was honored to be co-chair of the LVF.

“Latinos have the power to shape our own future; we must own that power and use it wisely - to elect candidates that reflect our values and fight back against those that are looking to scapegoat our communities,” Villaraigosa said in a statement.

The Latino Victory Project plans to keep the pressure on GOP presidential candidates by taking part in a “my country, my vote” rally in Boulder, Colo., on Wednesday, when the next GOP debate is scheduled.

A few weeks ago, the group vowed to closely watch the Democratic debate.

During the debate, the group’s Twitter account highlighted the scant attention paid to Latinos, and topics such as immigration and healthcare.

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Elizabeth Llorente is Senior Reporter for FoxNews.com, and can be reached at Elizabeth.Llorente@Foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @Liz_Llorente.