By Pablo Rodriguez
On Monday April 4, 2011, dozens of Tea Party members and anti-immigrant supporters met in Sacramento, California to listen to Assembly Member Tim Donnelly and Arizona’s Senator/author of [Senate Bill] SB 1070, Russell Pearce, as they introduced a new bill, known as Assembly Bill (AB) 26. Donnelly and Pearce said they would work arduously to pass immigration laws in California similar to those passed in Arizona. Leaders of immigrant rights movements decided not to give any media attention to Donnelly or Pearce. AB 26 died quietly the following day at the Judicial Assembly Committee of California.
The prompt defeat of AB 26 was one of the many defeats coming for both Donnelly and Pearce. Tired of the divided politics, and Pearce’s corruption, a volunteer army under the leadership of organizer Randy Parraz, and operating under the name “Citizens for a Better Arizona”, led a successful and historic campaign against Senator Pearce who was removed from office. This was the first time in the United States where a President of the Senate was removed from his duties during session.
In California, Assembly Member Tim Donnelly found another opportunity for right wing radio. Immediately following Governor Jerry Brown signing the second part of the California Dream Act (AB 131) in October, Donnelly and his right wing supporters started a campaign to overturn the California Dream Act. Donnelly said to the media, “All we need is 504,000 valid signatures, and I believe we will probably have a million.” Target gift cards and professional signature gatherers were able to reach 447,514 signatures by the deadline January 5, 2012.
The first week of 2012 turned out to be a bad week for Assembly Member Donnelly. At the beginning of the week, he was detained and ticketed for having a loaded 45 caliber gun and a secondary bullet charger with five bullets in a Southwest Airlines flight at Ontario’s Airport. Days after being cited, Donnelly affirmed that he was armed following recent death threats as a result of his campaign to defeat the California Dream Act. He insists that he erroneously left the weapon on his suitcase and he forgot to take it out before boarding the flight to Sacramento.
There is an evident contradiction in Donnelly’s story. He did not notify the office of the California State Assembly Speaker or the Sergeant at Arms about the presumed death threats. If he really felt threatened, he could have asked for—and he would have received— additional security by the California Highway Patrol.
Donnelly has frequently noted that he is a patriot who would like to impose the “right to bear arms.” It would be interesting to see if he will continue leading the “right to bear arms”, when he is before a judge that may condemn him to a year behind bars. Will he be as vocal about the “rights to bear arms” with the Security and Transportation Administration that could also impose a $10,000 fine? I predict that Donnelly “the Patriot” will coward.
Pablo Rodriguez is Executive Director of Communities for a New California, formally the Director of the Community Organization Institute of Dolores Huerta