So who in the California GOP is going to take some responsibility for this disaster?
If the California GOP wants to know why its in the minority in this state, its because of stuff like this.
Here’s the story from today’s Chron….Michael Kamburowski, an Australian immigrant who served as the California Republican Party’s chief operating officer, abruptly resigned Sunday — less than 24 hours after The Chronicle reported he had been ordered deported in 2001, jailed in connection with the order, and now has a $5 million wrongful arrest lawsuit pending against U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials.
The move was reported in a terse statement late Sunday by state party chair Ron Nehring, who said the state GOP’s Operations Committee accepted Kamburowski’s resignation during a teleconference with him.
“We thank him for his service,” Nehring said in his e-mail statement. The news came as GOP officials and leaders expressed shock and fury at the troubled — and apparently unknown — immigration history of the person who handled the multimillion-dollar budget of the nation’s largest state Republican Party.
Former White House adviser Steve Schmidt, who ran the re-election campaign for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, angrily described the appointment of Kamburowski as “almost a parody of incompetence and malfeasance.”
“Somebody who has been imprisoned, faced deportation, has never worked on a state political campaign … and who is suing the government for harm inflicted by his deportation order defies description,” Schmidt said. “The bylaws of the Republican Party invest enormous authority in the position of chief operating officer — and it’s clear that this person brings no experience and qualifications to run a state party of the size of California, not to mention the assorted legal issues involved.”
The harsh words from Schmidt — who ran the Bush 2004 presidential campaign war room, advised Vice President Dick Cheney and was a member of White House adviser Karl Rove’s inner circle — underscored the concern in the California GOP following The Chronicle’s story on Sunday that detailed Kamburowski’s immigration history and multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the government.
Kamburowski was a surprise pick who was largely unknown to top state GOP leaders when he was named in March to be the chief operating officer of the party.
The 35-year-old Australian citizen was handpicked for the post by Nehring, who became party chief in February.
Kamburowski is a former registered lobbyist for Americans for Tax Reform and a top operative for the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project, both founded by conservative activist Grover Norquist. Nehring — also a former senior adviser and consultant to Norquist’s Washington, D.C., operation — worked with Kamburowski at Americans for Tax Reform in the 1990s.
The Chronicle reported Sunday that court records indicate Kamburowski, who arrived in the United States in 1995, was ordered deported by U.S. immigration officials in 2001. He was jailed three years later for about one month at the Wachenhut prison in Jamaica, N.Y., in connection with the immigration matter, according to federal court documents.
Kamburowski’s attorney, Michael DiRaimondo, said his client challenged the government’s deportation order and an immigration court overturned it. Both Kamburowski and DiRaimondo said Kamburowski is a lawful permanent resident.
In 2005, Kamburowski filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New York alleging wrongful arrest and imprisonment. His lawsuit, which details his immigration history, seeks $5 million in damages for “severe emotional stress and embarrassment” and loss of his job.
Kamburowski, reached on Saturday, declined to answer questions about the matter, saying, “I can’t jeopardize the case by making any comments.” He didn’t immediately respond to a phone call seeking comment on his resignation Sunday night.
The government maintains that its agents acted lawfully in executing a valid warrant for Kamburowski’s arrest and deportation; a hearing in the civil lawsuit is set for September.
Nehring, in an e-mail to the Chronicle before the resignation was announced Sunday, declined to answer whether he had been aware of Kamburowski’s immigration background when he recommended the Australian to handle the finance operations of the state party. “This is a personnel matter that we will review and comment on following that,” Nehring wrote.
But GOP Web sites and California Republican Party board members expressed surprise and even outrage at Kamburowski’s past.
Jon Fleischman, the Southern California vice chair of the GOP, told The Chronicle that board members who approved the appointment in March were completely unaware of the Australian’s background. “Mr. Kamburowski did not disclose anything to the board of directors that even hinted at any of this stuff prior to our voting to retain his services,” he said.
Fleischman, in his popular GOP Web site, the FlashReport, bannered The Chronicle story with the alarmed comment: “Are you kidding me?”
And his Sunday blog asked fellow Republicans: “Is our COO suing America?”
Fleischman, in a letter distributed to GOP board members Sunday, warned that “needless to say, if any of this is true (especially alleged jail time, and alleged litigation against the U.S. government) it is a very serious matter.”
Red County San Bernardino, another GOP blog site, called the revelations jaw dropping, and added that “if it is true that Kamburowski did not disclose this arrest to the party, it suggests serious deficiencies in his character.”
Tom Del Beccaro, the party’s Northern California vice chair, declined comment, saying, “I think these are shrill times on the topic of immigration and a patient, thoughtful look at all these things is probably good.”
But Schmidt, considered one of the nation’s top GOP strategists, said the controversy threatened the viability of the state party, and represented a slap in the face to loyal volunteers and donors.
“Clearly, (Kamburowski) has no qualifications to serve as the chief operating officer of a major state party, and every person in the state of California who has ever donated a dollar to the state GOP has every right to be furious over this,” he said.
He said that there are still questions to be answered about the appointment, and GOP party members deserve an immediate “accounting for who, what and when did (top GOP officials) know about his immigration and legal status.”
News of Kamburowski’s immigration past comes on the heels of revelations in The Chronicle earlier this month that the state GOP used a highly sought-after H1B visa to hire another immigrant as a top consultant. Christopher Matthews, a Canadian citizen with no experience in statewide politics, was hired recently after the California Republican Party applied for, and received, an H1B visa specifically to fill the role of political director, according to U.S. Department of Labor data.