Rumors and Accusations Cast Shadows on Brown and Black Presidential Forum
by: Chase Martyn
As Saturday night's Brown and Black Presidential Forum in Des Moines draws near, concerns have emerged about the way it is being organized. The forum, which is the oldest minority-focused presidential debate in the country, is one of the great traditions of the Iowa Caucuses, but local activists and campaigns have been frustrated by this year's planning and execution.
The core group helping to organize the forum has been shrunk from previous years, according to Des Moines Realtor and Latino activist Joe Henry, who was involved with the forum in its early years during the 1980s and became involved again during the 2000 election cycle. Henry, who supports Sen. Barack Obama, was not invited to participate in the planning this year.
"It's pretty evident at this point that both Wayne Ford and Mary Campos -- both old friends of mine -- have undoubtedly aligned themselves with the Clinton campaign," he said, "and the smaller, the better, for that." Campos and Ford, both respected and long-standing activists, founded the forum together in 1984 and continue to operate it as co-chairs. Ford also serves in the Iowa House.
Reached for comment Wednesday afternoon, the two organizers denied any allegations that they were favoring one candidate over others. "I don't think that question needs an answer," Ford said. "I am a little insulted that people would even think that," continued Campos.
Mark Daley, Iowa Communications Director for Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign, denied the accusations as well.
Still, concerns exist because of the uncharacteristic exclusivity of the planning for this year's forum.
Max Cardenas, a Hispanic entrepreneur from Des Moines, was involved in the 2004 Brown and Black Presidential Forum. He told Iowa Independent that he was invited to participate in the planning of that year's forum a month before it began. In the week preceding it, he was asked to organize one of several community-wide meetings focusing on specific issue areas that were of interest to the minority community. The meetings served as part of the build-up to to the Saturday forum, he said, and they helped to maximize the number of people involved in the discussion before questions were formulated and the forum took place. This year, he was not invited to participate, and there was no indication that any such meetings took place. "That's unfortunate," he said.
Although Cardenas admitted he had not seen "concrete evidence" that either Campos or Ford planned to endorse Sen. Hillary Clinton, he noted speculatively that "The guests of Mary Campos [who will be at the Forum with her] are co-chairs of the Clinton campaign.".......................
Aside from the concerns raised by past participants about who was included in the planning of the forum and who was excluded, three knowledgeable sources who asked to remain anonymous expressed frustration over the apparent secrecy with which tickets are being distributed.
Rest of article: HERE.
This bothers me for a couple of major reasons.
1. The Clintons pulled this 3-6-9 at an event in Nevada. But, this time, at least the people know about it beforehand.
2. Iowa is a state with such a small minority demographic, this is probably the lone event that even comes close to attempting to address issues of concerns to Blacks and Hispanics.
When I first heard about this event, I was so excited. So much is focused on Iowa and New Hampshire being two of the Whitest States in America. So, when I found out that there was a forum focused on Blacks and Hispanics, I was psyched. I thought that this might be a way to engage those communities, and also show the rest of the country that Iowa does have some diversity, though small.
Now, I get a sour feeling going into it; that the jig is rigged, and that the organizers would allow this event to be sullied and have a question mark thrown over it by dealing in such tactics, well, a pox on them for their lack of judgement. Because, don't think that folks won't remember this next time; their credibility will be questioned, and they are creating hard feelings when there didn't need to be any. Iowa is unlike many states; folks don't like anything that seems shady or underhanded. They actually frown on it, and when you do it, do expect for people to give the once over before they'll shake your hand.
I'll still follow this event, but I won't be trusting much of anything coming out of it.
I guess the only positive thing about it is that it's obvious how much the Obama Campaign is scaring them in Iowa.