June 06, 2012[DEMOCRAT]
File photo by Edith Tucker
Rep. Larry Rappaport, 2nd from left, of Colebrook was one of the House members who sponsored Dr. Orly Taitz, left, a nationally known "birther," at a state Ballot Commission hearing held on Nov. 18, 2011. The Commission voted, 5 to 0, to list President Barack Obama on the Democratic primary ballot. Clarksville moderator Roger Sylvester, right, and Rep. Harry Accornero of Laconia were also at a strategy session held at noon in the State House cafeteria.
Immigrants' List names Rep. Rappaport to its "Hall of Shame"
[subhead] Rappaport denies being opposed to immigrants
By Edith Tucker
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Immigrants' List (IL), which describes itself as a bipartisan Washington-based political action committee (PAC), has named Rep. Larry Rappaport of Colebrook, a Republican state representative from Coös District One and former selectman, to its second annual Local Hall of Shame. The list focuses solely on what its members believe to be the 10 worst local anti-immigrant local politicians in America.
"Rappaport's fringe views – including wanting to alter the Constitution to keep children from becoming citizens depending on who their parents are – goes against everything this country is about," said IL board member Ted Ruthizer in a prepared statement. "He says you shouldn't be an American citizen if even one of your parents doesn't have citizenship, and he's a 'birther' who pursues conspiracy theories about our president (Barack Obama). He's not just wasting New Hampshire's time and tax dollars, he's harming the state's reputation for sensible, moderate leadership."
Rappaport was quick to deny any bias toward immigrants, however. "Until you sent me their press release (on Thursday night), I had never heard of 'Immigrant's List." They have never contacted me, and their portrayal of me as being opposed to immigrants is incorrect. The folks who comprise this group are very ill-informed. We are a nation of immigrants. Several generations ago, my grandfather immigrated from Russia, as did my grandmother. While I am definitely opposed to those who enter our country illegally, I am a staunch supporter of those who choose the legal route and go through the process."
IL's other 2012 inductees include Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona, whose actions led to the Justice Department to intervene, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley who seeks to have documents of residents' in his state investigated, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and Sheriff Daron Hall of Davidson County, Tenn., who forced a pregnant undocumented woman to be shackled with chains while giving birth. The complete list is available at http://j.mp/LocalHall.
"We want to show these politicians that they cannot continue to hurt working families without being held accountable," IL board member Ruthizer continued. "They're standing in the way of fixing our broken immigration system. Some are openly discriminating against immigrants. Some are spouting base and misleading claims. Some are pushing legislation written by outside special interest groups that will decimate our small businesses and raise the cost of food and other goods for every family in America. Enough is enough."
Immigrants' List (IL) touts itself as being "dedicated to meaningful immigration reform that unites families, promotes fair employment practices, and restores America's welcoming status for those who seek freedom from persecution and a better way of life. IL supports pro-immigration candidates and works to defeat those who use fear and deception to spread an anti-immigrant agenda."
Zach Stanton, who works for the Crossroads Campaigns consulting firm, explained in an e-mail exchange that the firm specializes in "field, online, and communications work for nonprofit organizations and political campaigns."
Asked how it happened that Rappaport had made the list, Stanton explained that IL had asked its members — more than 22,000 e-mail subscribers across the country — to submit nominees for the Local Hall of Shame. He noted, "as a federal PAC, Immigrants' List focuses more on Congressional/Senate races, so the insights of our members help us stay aware of local anti-immigrant politicians whose actions may otherwise go unnoticed."
Stanton said, "One of our supporters in New Hampshire nominated Rep. Rappaport and gave us a brief description of his background. We then took 20 candidates from the submissions and put them up for a vote of all of our members online. Our supporters voted Rappaport into the top 10 worst list."
IL also claims that Rappaport is one of the state's leaders of a national anti-immigration group, SLLI — State Legislators for Legal Immigration.
When asked about it, Rappaport not only said he is not a member but also that he had never heard of it.
IL states, "Rappaport's political rap sheet reads like a laundry list of conspiracy theories. … Rappaport insists that you aren't a natural-born citizen even if one of your parents was an immigrant (regardless of where you were born, or if your other parent was a citizen). This came up because Rappaport is a 'birther' who doesn't believe President Obama is eligible for the presidency."
Stanton continued, "As one New Hampshire resident responded, 'The shocking thing isn't that there are people out there who fervently believe such nonsense, but that these people are elected officials.'"
Rappaport, who plans to file this week to run for another two-year term, is a member of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee. He has spent a lot of time during this past session working on legislation aimed at thwarting the ability of Northern Pass, a project proposed to bring 1,200 megawatts of high-voltage direct current hydroelectric power from Hydro-Quebec on towers that would stand up to 130-feet tall, across the Canadian border into New Hampshire to a converting station in Franklin.
In November, Rappaport also publically teamed up with Rep. Harry Accornero of Laconia to support a California lawyer and dentist, Dr. Orly Taitz, who filed a complaint with the Secretary of State's Office challenging President Barack Obama's eligibility to be listed on the state's Democratic presidential primary ballot.
The five-member quasi-judicial state Ballot Law Commission, chaired by attorney Brad Cook, heard testimony on Nov. 18, 2011, from both Taitz and assistant secretary of state Karen Ladd, plus Accornero and a few others.
Rappaport said before the hearing that he and Accornero were bothered by the question of where Obama was born. "We believe his eligibility, based on the U.S. Constitution (which requires that the president be a natural-born citizen) is at least questionable," Rappaport explained to this reporter. He also believes that the Social Security number that Obama uses is not valid.
Rappaport did not testify at the hearing nor did he participate in the shouting and name-calling that took place after the Commission ruled that Obama should be listed on the state's primary ballot. That incident was the subject of an official inquiry in which no one was reprimanded.
According to its website, IL was founded in the fall of 2006 when six immigration attorneys formed a network to raise money for pro-immigration candidates in the then-upcoming elections. IL raised $120,000 in a week's time. "Since then, IL has the support of nearly 30,000 supporters, has raised nearly $500,000, and supported over 60 candidates, both Republicans and Democrats," according to the website. "Today, Immigrants' List is the only pro-immigration political action committee (PAC) in the country."