A CNN contributor whom CNN bills as a “Republican consultant” has given more than $18,000 to Democratic candidates since 1997, including thousands to a New Jersey senator currently on trial for corruption charges.
Ana Navarro gave another $2,000 to political action committees known as Democrats Win Seats and Help Elect America’s Team.
It’s odd behavior for a Republican consultant.
On Sunday’s edition of CNN’s “State of the Union,” ultra-liberal Democrat Jennifer Granholm, the former governor of Michigan, urged Navarro to switch parties.
Navarro said she needed to stay in the GOP. Navarro then insisted her bipartisan cash contributions and her relentless, sometimes out-of-bounds attacks on President Donald Trump are no worse than Trump’s supposed sins.
“I was a Republican when the president you support was a Democrat, and I was a Republican when the president you support was an independent,” said Navarro.
But that’s not clear at all.
Menendez and Wasserman Schultz
A look at the Center for Responsive Politics’ donor database of large contributions shows Navarro has been giving to Democrats since 1997. Her first major contributions listed were to Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) in June 1997, and then she made two $200 donations to Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
Over the years, she has given to other top foes of the GOP, including $1,000 to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), the former chair of the Democratic National Committee.
For Navarro, the relationship with Menendez — on trial on September 6 for fraud and bribery — is long but not complicated. Like most of what motivates Navarro, the political relationship appears to have started based on Navarro’s efforts to loosen immigration laws as an activist and attorney for a immigration-focused law firm.
Navarro frequently listed her employment at the Bander Law Firm in Miami Shores, Florida. The firm specializes in immigration and nationality laws, and notes it was founded in 1980 “at the gateway to Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Gulf.”
The firm boasts of “our ingenuity in cases that involve the Cuban Adjustment Act (particularly for individuals born outside of Cuba to a Cuban-born parent), recovery of renounced or lost U.S. citizenship … and expedited EB-5 petitions.” (Such a petition allows a green card for a foreign investor who makes a minimum investment and employs at least 10 Americans.)
It appears Navarro met a few of the Democrats for whom she grew an affinity as she was working as a young attorney. She was corresponding with Florida’s Graham about the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act in late 1997.
In her correspondence, which was entered in the record, Navarro thanked Graham for his work on the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act. (Navarro herself was born in Nicaragua in 1971.)
She also said the reform bill, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, was causing immigrants some fear of deportation.
It appears to be during this time that Navarro met Menendez, the junior senator from New Jersey. Menendez was known for his opposition to the Cuban regime, but he was also key to relaxing immigration regulations.
So taken with Menendez was “Republican consultant” Navarro that she helped organize three fundraisers for Menendez as control of the GOP-led Senate was at risk in late 2006.
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“I want to keep a Republican majority, but not if it means losing Bob Menendez,” Navarro told The New York Times in a Sept. 28, 2006, article. “He’s part of our extended family.”
Menendez won, and the Republicans went on to lose the Senate majority in the 2006 elections — by one vote.
This loss helped undercut President George W. Bush’s presidency, something his brother Jeb Bush apparently forgave. Jeb Bush, like Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008, became sold on Navarro’s expertise on immigration law, and made her part of campaign advisory committees.
The GOP’s Trouble Caucus
Many of Navarro’s contributions have gone to Republicans, but rarely conservatives who toe a hard line on illegal immigration. Favorite Republican recipients include frequent troublemakers for advocates of conservative policies, including: Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), McCain, and a number of South Florida Republicans who favor weaker immigration laws.
McCain and Bush generally embraced looser immigration policies in their White House runs than what the GOP base wanted. Jeb Bush famously helped undercut his 2016 campaign by declaring in 2014 that illegal border crossings were “an act of love.”
Not surprisingly, the media ignore the activist-attorney part of Navarro’s political resume. On May 12, 2015, The New York Times explained why she garnered so many media panel appearances: “Ms. Navarro, 43, is often identified as a ‘confidante’ of Jeb Bush or a ‘Republican strategist.’ But her chief qualification is that she, better than anyone in the 2016 presidential cycle, hits the sweet spot of the Republican Party’s hunger for Hispanic female validators, the political media’s craving for an aura of access, and the overall dearth of wit in the talking-point echo chamber.”
Even during debate on CNN panels, Navarro’s work as an immigration attorney and quasi-lobbyist who greases the skids for looser immigration laws rarely gets mentioned.
But she is drawing increased scrutiny after more than two years of dogging Trump at every turn.
Lately, on Twitter, Navarro’s increasingly hysterical remarks have suggested Trump has a mental illness.
“Only possible defensible explanation for Trump’s disgusting, unpresidential, narcissistic behavior, would be early-on-set dementia. Maybe,” tweeted Navarro on Tuesday.
After Granholm pitched that Navarro should join the Democrats, former Trump adviser Michael Caputo shot to Navarro: “You’ve already gone over.”
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