Arizona Democratic candidate wrongly listed as Hispanic in group directory

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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A Democratic congressional candidate in Arizona is facing questions about why she is mysteriously and falsely being listed as a Hispanic in a prominent Latino group’s directory of officeholders.

This could be problematic for the candidate, Kyrsten Sinema, because the National Association of Latino Elected (NALEO) and Appointed Officials claims it verifies the information with the officeholders before going to print.

The revelation that NALEO’s 2011 “National Directory of Latino Elected Officials” lists Sinema, a former Democratic state senator, as a Hispanic first surfaced Monday on the website of the Phoenix New Times.

Sinema spokesman Rodd McCleod denied that the candidate self-identified as a Latina. “It’s not our mistake,” McCleod told the Phoenix New Times. “It’s NALEO’s mistake.”

But a NALEO official told the outlet that the information came from Sinema or her office. “We rely heavily on self-identification,” NALEO’s Rosalind Gold said.

The directory also explains how officials with the organization verify the information: “The NALEO Educational Fund staff contacted all Latino elected officials identified by phone or fax, and more than 5,000 inquiries were completed during the verification period.”

This isn’t the only known example of NALEO referring to Sinema as a Hispanic. A PowerPoint used by the group at its 29th Annual Conference in June lists Sinema in the category, “Latinos in non-Latino majority districts.”

In a 2011 video obtained by The Daily Caller, Sinema spoke of how her family came from Dutch heritage.

“My history is Dutch,” Sinema said. “And I want to bring the Dutch history of my family to every opportunity and engagement that I have.”

While Sinema’s campaign says the group mistakenly listed her as Hispanic, the candidate has been active at NALEO events over the last several years.

“I’m at NALEO 2011 for an immigration update,” Sinema wrote on her Facebook profile in 2011. “It’s time for reform, our country can’t continue with this broken system any longer.”

In June 2010, she also attended a NALEO Lunch panel on Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Sinema’s campaign has already gotten national attention: If elected, she would be the first open bi-sexual person in Congress.

She has also raised eye brows with comments, including her admission in 2003 that she once partook in a “pagan” dance during an anti-war protest rally.

The Democratic primary for the congressional seat is in August.

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Alex Pappas